A recent study published in the Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness examines the effectiveness of sending teacher-written postcards home to reduce absences in preschool through second grade.
The authors implemented a randomized intervention across schools and classrooms in two urban school districts involving an analysis sample of 5,552 students in preschool through second grade with no significant differences in pretreatment characteristics between the treatment and control groups.
For intervention group, following an absence, school staff sent postcards to parents detailing how many days of school their child had missed, alongside a handwritten note from their teacher summarizing the academic material covered during the absence. In the control classrooms, no changes were made to how teachers addressed absences. Analysis sample included absence record of students during a 13 school-week.
Results showed that the treatment reduced absences by 0.45 days (95% CI, 0.14–0.76) relative to the control mean of 5.42 days absent. The point estimate corresponds to an 8.3% reduction in absences. The results are similar to other previous studies and provide evidence that a postcard intervention designed and implemented by schools and teachers can be effective in reducing absences. The teachers’ annotations with personalized academic and absence information were a unique feature of the intervention that suggests areas for further research.
Source: Himmelsbach, Z., Weisenfeld, D., Lee, J. R., Hersh, D., Sanbonmatsu, L., Staiger, D. O., & Kane, T. J. (2022). Your child missed learning the alphabet today: A randomized trial of sending teacher-written postcards home to reduce absences. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 15(2), 263–278. https://doi.org/10.1080/19345747.2021.1992812