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Ben York

Ben York

Ben York ( is a doctoral student at Stanford University, an Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Pre-doctoral Quantitative Education Policy Analysis Fellow and a Karr Fellow. His research focuses on educational policies and programs that provide useful information to educators of young children, broadly defined, in an effort to enhance educational processes and improve child outcomes. For example, Ben recently led a large-scale randomized controlled trial (RCT) of an eight month-long early literacy text messaging intervention for low-income parents of preschoolers. The program had positive effects on parental involvement at home and school, which translated into student learning gains ranging from 0.21 to 0.34 standard deviations. He is currently leading the expansion of the intervention in San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) into pre-kindergarten math and kindergarten literacy. Ben has led other large-scale RCTs and he has have an active research program focused on enhancing teachers’ knowledge of individual students’ skills (KISS) through information provision.
Dissertation Committee: Susanna Loeb, Deborah Stipek, Tom Dee

Research Interests: Traditionally Under-Served Populations, Information Provision, Educational Processes, Early Childhood Education, Behavioral Economics

  • Stanford University, Ph.D., Education Administration and Policy Analysis, expected June 2015
  • Stanford University, M.A., Political Science, 2014
  • University of Colorado at Boulder, B.A., Economics Summa Cum Laude, 2002

More information:
One Step at a Time: The Effects of an Early Literacy Text Messaging Program for Parents of Preschoolers

Substantial systematic differences exist in children’s home learning experiences. The few existing parenting programs that have shown promise often are not widely accessible, either due to the demands they place on parents’ time and effort or cost. In this study, we evaluate the effects of READY4K!, a text messaging program for parents of preschoolers designed to help them support their children’s literacy development. The program targets the behavioral barriers to good parenting by breaking down the complexity of parenting into small steps that are easy-to-achieve and providing continuous support for an entire school year. We find that READY4K! positively affected the extent to which parents engaged in home literacy activities with their children by 0.22 to 0.34 standard deviations, as well as parental involvement at school by 0.13 to 0.19 standard deviations. Increases in parental activity at home and school translated into student learning gains in some areas of early literacy, ranging from approximately 0.21 to 0.34 standard deviations. The widespread use, low cost, and ease of scalability of text messaging make texting an attractive approach to supporting parenting practices.

Programs and projects: