SOURCE: Corporation for Public Broadcasting

Corporation for Public Broadcasting

April 04, 2011 12:13 ET

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting Releases Report Proving Public Media Boosts Early Literacy in Children

For Less Than Half a Penny, Ready To Learn Programming and Content Helps More Than Five Million Children a Day Improve Their Reading Skills

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - April 4, 2011) - The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) announced today the release of a research report, Findings from Ready To Learn: 2005-2010 (, developed with cooperation from PBS and the U.S. Department of Education, which reaffirms the important role that public media plays in educating children ages 2-8.

Research on Ready To Learn, 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."

As part of its 2005-2010 grant award to CPB and PBS, the U.S. Department of Education required that at least one-fourth of Ready To Learn funding be devoted to rigorous studies of Ready To Learn-supported television programs, including "SUPER WHY," "Martha Speaks" and "The Electric Company"; interactive games; classroom materials; teaching and learning tools; and community engagement activities. 

"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.

"CPB and PBS turned a small investment from the Ready To Learn grant into a wealth of important new early childhood literacy resources," said Jim Shelton, assistant deputy secretary for innovation and improvement, U.S. Department of Education. "We know that millions of children lack sufficient reading skills and access to quality learning opportunities, but by leveraging innovative interactive technologies, we can reach many more children with evidence-based curricula and improve learning outcomes."

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.

About CPB
CPB ( is a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967 and is steward of the federal government's investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operation of nearly 1,300 locally-owned and operated public television and radio stations nationwide, and is the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television and related online services.

About PBS
PBS (, with its nearly 360 member stations, offers all Americans -- from every walk of life -- the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online content. Each month, PBS reaches 117 million people through television and 20 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS' broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry's most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. PBS' premier children's TV programming and its website,, are parents' and teachers' most trusted partners in inspiring and nurturing curiosity and love of learning in children. More information about PBS is available at, one of the leading dot-org websites on the Internet, or by following PBS on Twitter (, Facebook ( through our apps for mobile devices.

About Ready To Learn Television (U.S. Department of Education)
Ready To Learn Television ( is a grant program managed by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Innovation and Improvement. It supports the development of innovative educational television and digital media targeted at preschool and early elementary school children and their families. Its general goal is to promote early learning and school readiness, with a particular interest in reaching low-income children. In addition to creating television and other media products, the program supports activities intended to promote national distribution of the programming, effective educational uses of the programming, community-based outreach, and research on educational effectiveness. 

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