To improve parental engagement, The Global Learning Collaborative School harnesses the power of a “simple” text message.

Background

Educators know that parental engagement is a key component of achieving better outcomes for students. Studies show that chronic absenteeism decreases when parents are more informed and engaged. Research from the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory shows that, regardless of family income or background, parental involvement leads to better grades, test scores, behavior, and graduation rates.

At The Global Learning Collaborative High School in NYC, the goal is to place students on a path to college readiness and global competency. A school of 455 students with an 81% graduation rate, The Global Learning Collaborative remains up-to-date on current technological trends in order to achieve academic success.

The Challenge

Principal Karla Chiluiza understood that getting through to parents was key, but realized that to be successful, her teachers needed to be supportive of the process and the technology involved.

“We wanted a system that was easy for the teachers to use and didn’t require parents to log in to an app or a portal to communicate,” says Principal Chiluiza. “With IO Education, we’ve made tremendous gains in communication because teachers can now send messages directly from their attendance and gradebooks and parents can receive and respond instantaneously. There are no barriers for parents about getting to a computer, logging in to an app, or having to step away from a meeting to take a call. The teachers love it because it’s easy for them to send and receive messages and much more immediate than trying to call a parent who may not be able to respond.”

The Solutions

Two-way translation

Language barriers can be removed with IO Education’s bi-directional language translations. Teachers can communicate in English and the system will translate it into Spanish, Arabic and 50 other languages. Parents can respond in their native language and the system will send it back to the teacher in English.

The end of robo-texts.

Principal Chiluiza says parents appreciated the personal messages from teachers, and the end of automatic calls. “It’s knowing where your child is and having the information for how your child is doing academically, and someone cares about how your child is doing academically, and they respond. It feels like there is a human being at the other end of who is sending the text message.”

No personal phone needed.

Teachers can protect their private phone number. Now they can send text messages from the platform so that their private numbers are protected. Before, teachers were most hesitant to use other services. Principal Chiluiza says now “Teachers are more willing to do this because their information is protected.”

The Outcomes

After a long break for Columbus Day weekend, one teacher at The Global Learning Collaborative took a moment to send a bulk notification message via SMS to the parents of children who were missing assignments. “Use this extra day for your child to catch up on missing work,” the text explained. One parent wrote back that she was unfamiliar with any missing assignment. In a brief exchange, the teacher quickly explained to the parent what the missing assignment was. Principal Chiluiza explained that this kind of instantaneous communication is what her teachers are finding most effective about the new system. “The day after Columbus day, the student showed up with the work,” Principal Chiluiza said. “It’s success. it’s exactly what you want with this kind of system. It’s instantaneous. ‘What missing assignment’ ‘This missing assignment!’ ‘Oh, okay! On it!’”

The Future

With the success we have seen in New York City we expect to roll out these same communicaton tools to schools nationally and expand the features currently available to continue adapting to usage and customer feedback.

Conclusion

In the first 30 days of adopting the IO Education messaging system, 20,000 messages were sent between teachers and parents. As more and more teachers send instant notifications to parents,, we predict that communication between parents and teachers will continue to improve.