What is “Tips by Text?”

Three year old playing with Legos

This innovative texting program supports parents and caregivers in creating positive educational environments. Recognizing that home learning experiences affect school readiness, Tips by Text helps parents support their children’s development and get ready for kindergarten. Tips by Text is easy for parents to use, and it is affordable to deliver to communities. Tips by Text has been shown to boost school readiness in urban areas, and TipsByText New Mexico is testing whether it can also improve school readiness in rural areas.

How does Tips by Text work?

Caregivers who sign up for Tips by Text will receive text messages for about 11 months (around October through August). The text messages will provide caregivers with information on how to support their child’s development and kindergarten readiness. Parents do not need to buy anything to participate in Tips by Text. The texts are informative and fun, and they take advantage of existing family routines, items around the house, and events in the community.

Are You Eligible?

You are eligible to participate if:
1. Your child was born on or before September 1, 2019 and has not started kindergarten
2. You live in the area served by one of the following participating school districts:

AnimasHatch Valley
BelenHondo Valley
CarrizozoJemez Valley
CentralLake Arthur
Chama ValleyLogan
Des MoinesMesa Vista
FarmingtonPojoaque Valley
FloydPueblo Of Laguna
Fort SumnerQuemado
Gallup-Mckinley CountyReserve
HobbsSan Diego Riverside Charter
Hondo ValleySan Jon
Jemez ValleyTaos
Lake ArthurTatum
LordsburgTruth Or Consequences
MagdalenaWagon Mound

Tips By Text in New Mexico

Both the popular and academic presses have used terms like “crisis” to characterize the current state of rural education, citing dismal comparisons with suburban and urban areas on such metrics as high school graduation, college attendance, and standardized test performance.  Boosting students’ school readiness has been shown to promote short and long term educational success, and evidence indicates that rural students start kindergarten with lower levels of school readiness than their urban and suburban peers. 

In urban and suburban communities, a common policy for promoting school readiness is increasing the availability and access to preschool.  This approach faces a unique set of challenges in rural areas, because many rural families are geographically farther from preschools, making the implicit time, transportation and other costs of preschool a formidable barrier to preschool attendance.  Thus, policies need to be developed to help boost the school readiness of rural students by supplementing prekindergarten. 

We Propose to Test a Novel Solution

One promising approach is to help parents build school readiness skills in the home.  A team at Stanford University developed and tested Tips by Text.  A randomized trial evaluation of the program serving San Francisco four-year-olds attending preschool found that participation increased parental reports of academic engagement in the home, teacher reports of parental engagement in the school, and students showed  about 3-4 months of additional literacy learning due to the program. Notably, the learning gains were greatest among the students who had the lowest levels of school readiness before beginning the program  (York, Loeb and Doss, 2019).[1]   These findings suggest that TipsByText might be even more effective for rural students who are not in preschool.

This project modifies Tips by Text for delivery in rural locations, develops the implementation protocols for delivering the program in rural areas, and conducts a randomized trial evaluation of its effectiveness.  The output of the project will be information on the viability of implementing the texting program in rural settings and whether this approach has the potential to improve school readiness of rural students.  The project partners include five local New Mexico Regional Education Cooperatives (RECs), The University of New Mexico, the RAND Corporation, and Stanford University.  We will start texting families in the fall of 2023. 

Our Partners

Tips by Text is brought to you by:

Thank you to our Advisory Group: 

Deborah Dominguez-Clark, State Director of Special Education, New Mexico Public Education Department
Shana Runck, Deputy Director – Preschool, New Mexico Early Childhood Education & Care Department
Dr. Angela Redondo, Associate Professor Early Childhood, New Mexico Highlands University
Barbara Tedrow, NM Family Services and Smiling Faces Child Care Center, Owner
Colleen Roan, McKinley County Early Childhood Coalition Member

Our Funding

Tips by Text in New Mexico is funded by the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education through a grant to the Prevention Research Center at the University of New Mexico. 

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