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READY TO LEARN

FUNDING BRIEF: READY TO LEARN

Ready To Learn uses the power of public television’s on-air, online, mobile and on-the-ground educational content to build the math and reading skills of children between the ages of two and eight, especially those from low-income families.

ACTION REQUEST

  • Local public television stations request continued funding of $27.3 million for Ready To Learn in FY 2015.
  • Sustained, dedicated funding will allow Ready To Learn to continue to meet the needs of those children most lacking math and reading skills. By extending the program’s community engagement and partnership-driven work, and by increasing capacity and reach through the innovative use of digital media to build the math and reading skills of children ages two to eight, Ready To Learn will continue to improve on the successes demonstrated throughout its history and proven by more than 70 studies over the last six years.

BACKGROUND

Ready To Learn is a competitive grant program that was launched in 1993, authorized by No Child Left Behind in 2001 and is administered by the U.S. Department of Education. 

In the last five-year grant round, Ready To Learn improved the reading skills of American children, ages two through eight, through fully researched, engaging educational television and online content, with a particular focus on over 150,000 low-income households in 23 states and the District of Columbia.

In September 2010, the U.S. Department of Education announced that it would renew funding for the Ready To Learn initiative for another five-year period by awarding competitive grants to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and PBS in Washington, DC, WTTW/Chicago in partnership with Wildbrain Entertainment, and the Hispanic Information and Telecommunications Network, Inc. (HITN) based in New York.

Through this grant, CPB and PBS are delivering innovative, high-quality transmedia content to improve the math and literacy skills of high-need children via broadcast television, the Internet, mobile and other dynamic new technologies. Public media’s Ready To Learn initiative called “Expanded Learning Through Transmedia Content” is:

  • Aligning all content with academic standards through new Pre-K and early elementary curriculum frameworks for mathematics and literacy.
     
  • Creating new children’s mathematics content and enhancing existing literacy content that all children can access on television, online and through mobile devices.
     
  • Designing a sophisticated progress tracking system that enables parents to follow the Ready To Learn content that their children are engaged with, the skills that have been learned, where their children are struggling and what skills should be tackled next.
     
  • Pioneering new styles and methods of educational storytelling through connected multi-platform content, including television, online games, mobile apps, augmented reality, a 3D-rendered multiplayer game and an immersive world environment.
     
  • Engaging leading national education and outreach partners in the development and deployment of educational resources to children and communities most in need.
     
  • Enlisting public television stations and community partners in year-round, on-the-ground efforts to test and implement new resources and approaches to learning that benefit low-income children and their families, and educators in both school and out-of-school settings.
     
  • Conducting rigorous research to determine if and how children’s math and literacy skills improve by engaging with math and literacy content, and educational games across connected multi-platform experiences in informal and formal learning environments, including the home.
     
  • Equipping parents and educators with tools and strategies to become more effective mediators of their children’s educational media consumption through the development of a free parents’ mobile app and the aggregation of bilingual at-home, classroom, and on-the-go math and literacy activities on the PBS KIDS Lab and PBS LearningMedia websites (www.pbskids.org/lab and www.pbslearningmedia.org).
     
  • Producing free professional development videos, lesson plans, and college courses for pre-service and in-service educators to effectively integrate PBS KIDS transmedia content into their classrooms.
     
  • Distributing free educational mobile apps for parents and educators in low-income communities nationwide through Head Start centers and PBS station partners that offer access to mobile and tablet devices.

The Ready To Learn initiative is pushing the frontiers of educational technology and providing ways to ensure that children in low-income communities have access to these innovative learning tools at home, in the classroom and in their community. CPB and PBS are demonstrating that “every new technology provides an opportunity to learn” and “anytime is learning time.”

WHY SHOULD FEDERAL FUNDS SUPPORT READY TO LEARN?

REACH: Ready To Learn content is on-air – reaching nearly 99% of the country’s television households through public television stations – as well as online and on-the-ground in classrooms and communities. In a typical month, 32 million children ages two and up are reached by Ready To Learn television content.

EFFECTIVENESS: Ready To Learn funds evidence-based television programs and digital content that teach key reading, math and STEM skills, effectively reaching our nation’s children, especially children in underserved communities.

TRUST: Parents and educators trust that their children’s learning outcomes will improve by engaging with Ready To Learn content, including Peg + Cat, Curious George, SUPER WHY!, Martha Speaks, The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About That, Sid the Science Kid and The Electric Company, produced by the best educational children’s content producers.

READY TO LEARN RESULTS

  • Studies show that Ready To Learn content has a significant and positive effect on the educational lives of children who use it. Together, CPB and PBS are collaborating with teams of producers, math and literacy experts, technologists, education organizations, researchers and parents to design and test media that can help close the achievement gap.
     
  • INCREASING MATH LEARNING AND PREPARING CHILDREN FOR SCHOOL: Two recent studies show use of PBS KIDS content and games by low-income parents and their preschool children improves math learning and helps prepare children for entry into kindergarten.
     
  • BOOSTING LITERACY SKILLS: Ready To Learn content has been associated with gains in reading ability of 29% in children grades K-2.
     
  • STRENGTHENING PARENT SUPPORT: Parents who used Ready To Learn math resources in the home became considerably more involved in supporting their children’s learning outcomes.
     
  • IMPROVING SUMMER LEARNING: A study of The Electric Company Summer Program showed kids grew significantly in their knowledge of math vocabulary (41%), numeracy skills (20%) and phonics skills (17%). 

In combination, Ready To Learn games, activities and videos provide early learners with the critical math and literacy skills they need to succeed in school and in the process, help level the academic playing field.

Ready To Learn is helping children learn in new ways by utilizing all platforms to successfully deliver educational digital media content, in collaboration with national partners and local stations. Public television requests that Congress provide continued funding of $27.3 million for Ready To Learn in FY 2015.


>>>Click here to download this funding brief<<<

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