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Developing systems to reduce student absenteeism: Experimental evidence from Argentina
Initial registration date
June 18, 2020
June 19, 2020 11:27 AM EDT
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New York University
Other Primary Investigator(s)
University of Pittsburgh
Additional Trial Information
We propose to conduct a randomized evaluation of a texting intervention to notify parents when their children miss school in the Province of Mendoza, Argentina. The province already has an online platform to which teachers regularly upload attendance information. We plan to leverage this platform to send weekly text messages to parents of students in public primary schools.
Ganimian, Alejandro and Lindsay Page. 2020. "Developing systems to reduce student absenteeism: Experimental evidence from Argentina." AEA RCT Registry. June 19.
Both interventions will offer parents the possibility of receiving weekly text-messages to encourage students' attendance to school, but they will differ in the information presented. Schools assigned to the treatment group will be offered the intervention in all primary-school grades (i.e., grades 1 to 7) to allow us to later examine treatment heterogeneity by grade.
All experimental groups will receive a "test message" early in the 2021 school year. This message will serve two purposes: (a) it will allow us to identify invalid cell-phone numbers, so that we can let schools know the names of students whose contact information needs to be updated; and (b) it will allow parents to opt out of the program (using a default "opt in"). In the control group, the parents of children who have been absent on a given week will not receive any text messages. The objective of including this group is to understand how the effect of each of the interventions described below compares to that of a ``business-as-usual'' condition, in which parents do not receive any direct communication from schools, but are in theory able to log into the online portal of the province to check their children's absences.
In the total absences (T1) group, the parents of children who have been absent on a given week will receive a text message informing them of their child's absences that week and the absences accumulated during the school year. The objective of this intervention is to understand whether student absenteeism is due to a lack of awareness among parents about the number of schooldays missed by their children, and if so, whether conveying information about absences can raise awareness and lead parents to take steps to reduce their children's absences.
In the reminder (T2) group, the parents of children who have been absent on a given week will receive a text message informing them of the consequences of student absenteeism, and conversely, of the importance of regular attendance to school. The objective of this intervention is to understand whether student absenteeism is due to a low salience of the importance of regular school attendance among parents, and if so, whether simply reminding them of that importance can raise its salience and lead parents to take steps to reduce their children's absences.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
We randomly assigned the schools in our sample to a control group, which will not receive the intervention, or to one of two treatment groups: (a) an information (T1) group, which will receive information on the total number of absences (per week and overall); or (c) a reminder (T2) group, which will be reminded on the importance of school attendance. We stratified our randomization by department.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization done in office by a computer.
Was the treatment clustered?
Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
269,082 students in primary education (grades 1 to 7)
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
167 schools in control group and 342 schools in both treatment groups (172 schools in T1 and 170 schools in T2).
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
New York University
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number