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Math is for Girls: The Unequal Effects of Text Messaging to Help Parents Support Early Math Development

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This study assesses the effects of two programs for parents aimed at supporting math development in prekindergarten students. Both programs use text-messaging to deliver content. One program focuses purely on math (the “pure math” program), while the other focuses on a combination of math, literacy, and social-emotional skills (the “combination” program). We find no evidence that the math-only program benefits children’s math development. However, the combination program shows greater promise, particularly for girls. When girls’ parents receive the combination program, their daughters — even those who start off the year behind boys in math — make learning gains in math that, on average, allow them to catch up to and even surpass the achievement level of their male counterparts.

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