This 56-page Corporation for Public Broadcasting report addresses the literacy needs of children 2-8 and the role of public media in meeting those needs. Below is a chunk of the CPB press release of last month to which I would add: be sure to check out the extensive bibliography from the five research arms (including the University of Pennsylvania) of the study.
Findings from Ready To Learn: 2005-2010 (3.0MB PDF), developed with cooperation from Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the U.S. Department of Education, an innovative initiative funded by Congress and the U.S. Department of Education, provides definitive new evidence that shows children from disadvantaged families who interact with public media make remarkable gains in mastering the fundamentals of early literacy – letter recognition, letter sounds, and vocabulary and word meaning. In some cases, growth on targeted skills is so significant that children are able to successfully narrow or close the achievement gap with their middle-class peers.
The high-quality literacy programs and content that public media developed through Ready To Learn reach more than five million children a day at cost of less than half a penny per child – significantly less than most other early literacy initiatives.
“When it comes to reading instruction, public media has met the ambitious standard set by Congress more than four decades ago,” said Patricia Harrison, president and CEO of CPB. “This report demonstrates how public media directly and cost-effectively contributes to improving early literacy development of children living in poverty and provides data that prove the overall educational benefits of public media. Few, if any, large-scale educational media initiatives have been as successful, and none has had a greater impact on the literacy development of children from low-income backgrounds.”
“Public media reinvented children’s broadcasting, proving that television can educate while it entertains,” said Paula Kerger, president and CEO of PBS. “Today we’re expanding that innovative idea to include a growing number of media platforms, from web sites to iPhone apps and more. Under the Ready To Learn initiative, PBS KIDS Raising Readers program has developed groundbreaking series, such as SUPER WHY, Martha Speaks, and the re-launched Electric Company that are based on educational research, scientifically proven to effectively boost literacy development and other academic skills of young children, and affordable for all parents, teachers and caregivers.”
The CPB and PBS Ready To Learn grant funded a highly qualified team of educational researchers, made up of leading scholars at the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Maryland, the Education Development Center, SRI International, and the American Institutes for Research, to conduct studies on Ready To Learn content, materials, resources and community engagement strategies.
The U.S. Department of Education recently awarded CPB and PBS another five-year Ready To Learn grant in 2010 to focus on math concepts, continue early literacy projects and develop innovative new teaching tools, including multi-media classroom tools, augmented reality games and transmedia gaming suites.