Engaging Parents with Preschools: Evidence from a Field Experiment

Last registered on April 28, 2022


Trial Information

General Information

Engaging Parents with Preschools: Evidence from a Field Experiment
Initial registration date
April 21, 2022

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
April 28, 2022, 5:47 PM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
April 28, 2022, 6:13 PM EDT

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.


Primary Investigator

University of Chicago

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Chicago
PI Affiliation
University of Chicago

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Disadvantaged children arrive at kindergarten less ready for school than their more advantaged counterparts. Prior research shows that family engagement is a key element of improving child skills. As such, Head Start and other publicly supported preschools are required to spend substantial funds promoting family engagement. To increase parental attendance at school-sponsored family-engagement events, we designed an intervention using a combination of financial incentives and behavioral tools. We conducted our 17-week experimental intervention with 319 parents across six preschools in Chicago during the 2018-19 school year. We offered treatment parents $25 per event to attend eight events sponsored by their preschool, along with weekly text message reminders of the events. The financial incentive was designed as a "clawback" incentive, i.e. framed using loss aversion. Results show that the likelihood of attending an event was 16.5% in the treatment group versus 12.9% in the control group, representing a 28% difference that was statistically significant. There was no significant heterogeneity by event time and length. We also found a significant positive spillover, where treatment parents were more likely to attend events beyond the ones we incentivized.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Kalil, Ariel, Susan Mayer and Rohen Shah. 2022. "Engaging Parents with Preschools: Evidence from a Field Experiment." AEA RCT Registry. April 28. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.9288-2.0
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details


Treatment parents were provided with loss-framed financial incentives ($25) and weekly text message reminders to attend family-engagement events sponsored by their preschool.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
We measure how many events (out of eight) were attended by parents. We convert this into a rate by dividing the total number of events attended by eight.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Parents across six preschools were automatically enrolled in our study, unless they opted out via text, email, or phone call. Within each preschool, half of the parents were randomized to receive treatment. Attendance at school-sponsored events were tracked for all parents.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization was done in our office using stata
Randomization Unit
parents (individuals).
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
159 in control, 160 in treatment
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
University of Chicago - Social and Behavioral Sciences IRB
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Intervention Completion Date
March 01, 2019, 12:00 +00:00
Data Collection Complete
Data Collection Completion Date
March 01, 2019, 12:00 +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
159 control, 160 treatment
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

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Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials