Roland Fryer Finds Cheery Texts Have No Impact on Learning Outcomes

BETWEEN THE LINES: Roland Fryer wants to know what makes kids work hard. He found out that paying them for good grades didn't work. In his latest published study, the Harvard economist wants to see if there's any impact when students are given free mobile phones and sent encouraging texts on the importance of staying in school and studying hard. (See the full report, or check out the Guardian summary.) It worked--to an extent. The nine-month study, which involved nearly 2,000 students in Oklahoma City Public Schools, found an increase in those who reported "feeling more 'focused' or excited about doing well." Unfortunately, these feelings were out of touch with reality, as:

"In stark contrast, on all administrative outcomes--math or English Language Arts (ELA) test scores, student attendance, or behavioral incidence--there is no evidence that any treatment had a statistically significant impact."
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