To support the millions of children lacking the basic early learning skills to succeed in school, the U.S. Department of Education’s Ready To Learn Television grant, has funded the development of educational television and digital media targeted at preschool and early elementary school children and their families, especially those who live in low-income communities, for the past two decades. Under this federal grant, CPB and PBS KIDS work with producers, researchers, local public media stations, and other partners to develop and distribute PBS KIDS multiplatform content – including television programs, interactive games, mobile apps, as well as hands-on activities – to engage children, families, and educators in learning experiences at home, in preschool, and in out-of-school settings.
In this grant cycle (2015 – 2020) CPB and PBS will work with experts in early learning to create science and literacy-based programming, mobile apps and online games. The grant will fund new content for PBS KIDS series such as The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! and Ready Jet Go! PBS KIDS will also develop a variety of new media properties as part of this effort, focused on scientific inquiry and literacy. CPB and PBS will leverage this content to develop personalized learning experiences for children and provide meaningful data to parents, caregivers and teachers.
Between 2010-2015, CPB and PBS collaborated with numerous partners to produce, evaluate, and disseminate a collection of evidence-based educational media and learning resources to advance the math and literacy skills of young children, particularly those in low-income communities.
- A Preschool Math Property, PEG + CAT – Peg and Cat use math and problem-solving skills to save the day. In 2015, PEG + CAT reached 11 million children on television and 12 million users digitally.
- An Elementary Math Property, ODD SQUAD – Young agents are presented with a unique math problem that they must solve together through teamwork, critical thinking, and related math skills and practices. In 2015, ODD SQUAD reached 10 million children on television and 20 million users digitally.
- Transmedia Game Collections and Apps – These integrated collections of interactive content and games feature over 135 new games and mobile apps based on characters and storylines from popular PBS KIDS series such as Curious George, The Cat In The Hat Knows A Lot About That, Cyberchase, Dinosaur Train,Martha Speaks, Sid the Science Kid, Super WHY!, and others.
- The Electric Company Immersive World – The project developed a web and mobile-enabled immersive world called Prankster Planet to extend the math and literacy impact of The Electric Company. A wide range of resources, both in-school and out-of-school, were also created to support summer learning, bilingual education, and more.
- Technology Innovations to Empower Parents and Educators – The project built and tested Measure Up!, a cutting-edge learning analytics platform that captures data from children’s real-time gameplay to help parents chart their child’s progress and receive recommendations for ways to further support their children’s learning.
- Learning Resources and Community Engagement – Through collaboration with local public media stations and their partners, CPB and PBS scaled the usage of RTL content and tools across the country with parents, caregivers, and teachers who work with target audience children. Tools featured PBS KIDS Lab, the PBS KIDS Play and Learn app, RTL’s Mobile Learning Program, Teaching Tips modules and videos, as well as PBS KIDS Afterschool and Summer Adventures. and more.
RTL math and literacy content is rigorously tested and evaluated at every phase of development and implementation by experts to assess its impact on children’s learning. More than 100 research and evaluation studies completed since 2005 show that this content engages children and enhances their early learning skills, and that children can make significant academic gains when taught through a combination of media.
- Supporting Parent-Child Experiences with PEG+CAT Early Math Concepts (EDC & SRI, 2015). This randomized RTL study found that children who used media content from PBS KIDS’ series PEG + CAT showed improvement in critical math areas involving ordinal numbers, spatial relationships, and 3-D shapes. Parents and caregivers also showed greater comfort and confidence in supporting their children with math concepts and problem-solving strategies.
- ODD SQUAD: Learning Math with PBS KIDS Transmedia Content at School and Home (2015, WestEd): Use of ODD SQUAD resources was shown to improve elementary-age students’ mathematics learning.
- Learning with PBS KIDS: A Study of Family Engagement and Early Mathematics Achievement, (2015, WestEd) PBS KIDS resources, coupled with family engagement, can help narrow the math achievement gap for children from low-income families and better prepare them for kindergarten.
- PEG + CAT Content Study (2014, ED/SRI): PEG + CAT resources were shown to improve children’s learning and engagement and were viewed favorably by parents.
- PBS KIDS Mathematics Transmedia Suites in Preschool Families and Communities (2013, WestEd): Children’s math scores improved and parents increased their support of children’s math learning while using Ready To Learn content.
- Preschool Teachers Can Use a PBS KIDS Transmedia Curriculum Supplement to Support Young Children’s Mathematics Learning (2013, Pasnik & Llorente): Results of a randomized controlled trial indicate that Ready To Learn content improved children’s understanding of early math, and increased educator content knowledge.
- Evaluation of The Electric Company Summer Learning Program (2011, WestEd): Students made significant gains in math, vocabulary, numeracy and phonics skills.