At a time when discussions of the “COVID Slide” and significant projected learning loss are ubiquitous, evidence-based approaches where families accelerate student learning are a bright spot. They are a sign of hope for school systems that are engaged in the challenging process of planning for an unprecedented school year. And while families are getting extra attention now due to school closures, it is important to remember that parents play an impactful role when students are in and out of the classroom by reinforcing student learning. Indeed, families have always played a critical role in their child’s learning journey.
Today we are excited to share our latest research findings - especially at a time when understanding “what works” is so critical. Building on our existing evidence base in early elementary grades, a quasi-experimental study was conducted with third, fourth, and fifth graders in Baton Rouge, Louisiana whose families received FASTalk messages during the 2018-2019 school year. We compared the end of year literacy performance of students whose families received 8 weeks of ELA Guidebook-aligned text messages to similar students whose families did not. What we found: FASTalk meaningfully advanced academic achievement as shown by statistically significant higher spring assessment scores for FASTalk students. Furthermore, FASTalk students began the year scoring lower than their peers and ended the year scoring ahead.
Advancing student outcomes by engaging families in their child’s learning experience is truly a powerful approach. And importantly, we’ve seen some of the greatest benefits of FASTalk for students who are the furthest behind, students from low-income backgrounds, and students from linguistically diverse backgrounds. In our recent study, more than 90 percent of the student sample was eligible for free or reduced price lunch. In a previous study, we found that FASTalk’s most powerful impact on learning outcomes was for students whose families did not share a common language with their child’s teacher. Parents are a critical lever in boosting achievement and evidence-based practices that engage parents should be at the top of the list as schools plan for combating learning loss.