Professor Matt Kraft published findings demonstrating the causal effect of teacher-family communication on student engagement:
Kraft, M.A. & Dougherty, S.M. (2013). The effect of teacher-family communication on student engagement: Evidence from a randomized field experiment. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness. 6(3), 199-222.
In this study, we evaluate the efficacy of teacher communication with parents and students as a means of increasing student engagement. We estimate the causal effect of teacher communication by conducting a randomized field experiment in which sixth- and ninth-grade students were assigned to receive a daily phone call home and a text/written message during a mandatory summer school program. We find that frequent teacher–family communication immediately increased student engagement as measured by homework completion rates, on-task behavior, and class participation. On average, teacher–family communication increased the odds that students completed their homework by 40%, decreased instances in which teachers had to redirect students’ attention to the task at hand by 25%, and increased class participation rates by 15%. Drawing upon surveys and interviews with participating teachers and students, we identify three primary mechanisms through which communication likely affected engagement: stronger teacher–student relationships, expanded parental involvement, and increased student motivation.
Read the full paper here.