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Engaging Girls in Math: The Unequal Effects of Text Messaging to Help Parents Support Early Math Development

This study assesses the effects of two text messaging programs for parents that aim to support the development of math skills in prekindergarten students. One program focuses purely on math, while the other takes an identical approach but focuses on a combination of math, literacy, and social-emotional skills. We find no evidence that the math-only program benefits children’s math development. However, the combination program shows greater promise, particularly for girls. Quantile regressions indicate that the effects are concentrated in the lower half of the outcome distribution. We discuss and provide evidence for various hypotheses that could explain these differences.


  • We test the effects of two text messaging curricula that leverage behavioral economics principles to help parents support the math development of prekindergarteners in the home.
  • We find that a program that cycles through literacy, mathematics, and social-emotional skills increases math achievement for girls, while a program focusing solely on mathematics has no effects.
  • Benefits for girls are concentrated on those with weaker performance on mathematics assessments.
  • We posit potential mechanisms based on the literature.
Educational Economics, Human Capital, Behavioral Economics, Early Childhood Education, Randomized Controlled Trials
Education level
Document Object Identifier (DOI)

EdWorkingPaper suggested citation:

Doss, Christopher, Hans Fricke, Susanna Loeb, and Justin B. Doromal. (). Engaging Girls in Math: The Unequal Effects of Text Messaging to Help Parents Support Early Math Development. (EdWorkingPaper: 20-310). Retrieved from Annenberg Institute at Brown University:

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