If you can send a Text Message, you can close the Achievement Gap?!

Attention teachers!

We have all heard about the achievement gap.  It is a serious issue that threatens the future of education in the United States.

According to Education Week:

” It is most often used to describe the troubling performance gaps between African-American and Hispanic students, at the lower end of the performance scale, and their non-Hispanic white peers, and the similar academic disparity between students from low-income families and those who are better off.”

And guess what?  It’s not getting better.

It gets worse…

Teachers (like yourself) are put in the unfair position of being responsible to close the achievement gap.

Value added evaluations, No Child Left Behind,  the new PARCC, and too much time spent testing and not enough on instructing has eroded teacher’s confidence.

Students have so much pressure put on them to perform well that stress destroys their confidence in the school system.  

But what if we were missing an important factor?

What would you say if I told you that a simple intervention (that requires no extra effort on your part) resulted in significant gains in:

  • GPA
  • Test Scores
  • Student motivation
  • Student Engagement

What if this intervention was backed up by research at Brown and Harvard?

A 2014 study from Harvard confirmed that a simple text message to parents significantly reduced the drop out rate.

You probably send text messages everyday, why not help close the achievement gap in the process?

Matthew Craft from Brown reported that each week his team sent brief individualized messages from teachers to the parents of high school students in a credit recovery program.  This simple tactic resulted in a 41% drop in the proportion of students failing!

Craft’s team tested multiple types of messages including praising the student and encouraging them through positive feedback.  They found one type of message was the most powerful.

What type of message was most powerful?

Was it a message that praised the student? No.

Was it a message that offered positive feedback? No.

Texts to parents that offered constructive criticism had the largest effect on student outcomes.  Describing what the students could do better seemed to change the dialogue between the parents and students.

(Growth Mindset Feedback Not Working?  Here’s Why and What to do about it! )

I know what you’re probably thinking….

You want me to give out my number to students and parents?


There is a simple solution to this problem.  You can text parents without giving out your number.


A new app called sideline allows people to add a second number (for free!) to their smartphone.

You get:

  • Unlimited texts
  • Your own voicemail
  • Your own real US phone number

Here’s a link to the app if you are interested.  While this class hack may not be magic, you may be surprised at how well it works!

PS – I Know You are very dedicated because you read all the way to the end.

If you think motivation and engaging students is important then you might want to check out the Engagement Checklist because it is a surefire way to engage students.


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