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Texting Parents Can Improve School Attendance

By Team Kinvolved


It probably comes as no surprise that texting is the preferred method of communication for the majority of people. Did you know that most (90%) open and read a text within 3 minutes?

Studies show that text messages also receive a higher rate of response than emails–45% versus 6%. If, like many of us at Kinvolved, you remember the days before email, we’ll give you a moment to process this information!

Given these statistics, it makes sense that texting parents/families is a great way to keep them informed and engaged. It’s a low-cost, accessible, and organized way to significantly decrease absenteeism in K–12 schools and districts. Here are four reasons why two-way texting is a great way for schools to improve attendance:


1. Texting can reduce chronic absence rates beginning as early as elementary school

According to a 2020 study from the Institute of Educational Sciences (IES), texting can reduce the chronic absence rates in an elementary school by approximately 18% in one year. By texting families of students with prior histories of constant absences, schools reduced their absences by 7–15%.

All in all, the study found that basic text messaging reduced absence rates for students by approximately 11%.

A second recently published IES study that looked at the implementation of attendance supports—including nudges, text messages, auto-calls, and emails sent through KiNVO™—in the Providence Public School District (PPSD) found that “during the 2018/19 school year the use of attendance-related text messaging increased more quickly in schools in which chronic absenteeism decreased between 2017/18 and 2018/19 than in schools in which chronic absenteeism increased, where the use of attendance-related text messaging remained flat.” 

The importance of involving families in their child's education cannot be understated and school districts that work with KiNVO know that the software makes it easier to get to the root of the problem and gain insights as to why a student is absent.

The variety of texting options allows for deeper parent-school communication. In alignment with the study’s findings, KiNVO partner schools have also seen a remarkable decrease in absence rates. For example, at Meriden Public Schools in Connecticut, KiNVO has helped provide a 22% decrease in absenteeism for English learners. Similarly, NYCDOE KiNVO schools have seen a 7% reduction in chronic absenteeism compared to all NYCDOE schools.

2. Texting is a reliable way for schools to reach families

Texting is an effective way of ensuring student presence in school buildings and it is both quick and reliable. In the 2020 IES study, nearly 100% of the messages sent were correctly delivered to parents across the year. KiNVO has shown similar results, with a near 100% delivery rate. Of course, delivery of messages is only one part of any outreach and communications plan.

To ensure recipients can read the messages they are sent, KiNVO automatically translates messages (we currently support translations into more than 80 languages) into the preferred language and back again when they reply. With two-way translated texts, families and schools can really engage with each other. According to the 2021 IES study, schools, especially secondary, were more likely to use text messaging with multilingual learner students because families could receive them in their preferred language. At the elementary level, evidence showed that KiNVO’s translation feature made text messaging an important tool for communication with non-English speaking parents and guardians.

In PPSD nearly a third of texts schools sent regarding attendance were translated. Spanish translations accounted for 29% of overall messages, but texts were also translated into Arabic, Haitian Creole, Kiswahili, and more.


3. Texting can be done at low costs for schools

The cost of attendance interventions is always a concern for schools and families alike. The IES study found that texting is a relatively affordable method ($6.90 to $8.53 per student/year) to improve attendance. For about the same price, KiNVO also provides attendance management and tracking.


4. District concerns about communicating with parents can be overturned

Because texting is the primary form of communication for most people, whether it’s with family, friends, work colleagues, or even the dentist, it makes sense that texting with families about their students is effective. The IES study found that texting reached most parents most of the time and that most parents “accepted text messaging as a way to inform them about their child’s attendance.” Unsubscribe rates were low (around 12%) and more common among those who received any form of intensified messaging.


Text messaging can help families and schools work together to guarantee student success

Both families and schools want to see students succeed, and one step to reaching this goal is decreasing absenteeism. Texting is an effective, organized, low-cost way to ensure reliable and in-depth communication between schools and families. 

Tags: attendance, family engagement, texting, attendance supports

Download our Guide to Family Partnerships

For chronically absent students, the more qualified hands on deck—those with watchful eyes, listening ears, and open hearts—the better the chance they have to succeed. This e-book showcases the voices, and heartbeats, of our educators, who share how their strategies for building student and family relationships, having tough conversations, and celebrating bright spots. The teachers and leaders featured here face real challenges and save real lives every day, and the ability to see things from their perspective drives our work.