Information and Student Achievement: Evidence from a Cellular Phone Experiment

Oklahoma City, OK
Oklahoma City Public Schools

2010 - 2011

RESEARCH QUESTION

What is the impact of providing cell phones—and the minutes to use them—on students' motivation to read books? Additionally, what is the impact of different types of text messages delivered to students? Ultimately, what is the impact on student achievement of both of these interventions?

ACTION

In the 2010-2011 school year, sixth and seventh grade students attending twenty-two elementary and secondary schools in Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS) were eligible to participate in the Million program. We randomized students into one of three treatment groups:

  • Students in Group 1 received a cell phone and were required to read books and pass quizzes about those books in order to earn phone minutes.
  • Students in Group 2 received a cell phone and daily inspirational text messages and were required to read books and pass quizzes about those books in order to earn minutes
  • Students in Group 3 received a cell phone with daily text messages and a fixed number of monthly minutes (i.e. cell phone minutes were not awarded on a performance basis).

OUTCOMES

Read the full paper here.

Students’ reported beliefs about the relationship between education and outcomes were influenced by treatment, and treatment students also reported being more focused and working harder in school. However, there were no measurable changes in attendance, behavioral incidents, or test scores.