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article imageSesame Street improves a child's school readiness

By Daniel Woods     Jun 9, 2015 in Lifestyle
Research conducted by two economics professors suggests that Sesame Street has a positive effect on children's academic achievement.
A new study carried out by two economics professors in America suggests that Sesame Street made a significant impact upon children’s pre–school development.
It found that positive benefits were more conspicuous among males, African Americans, and in areas where economic deprivation was more prominent, and these benefits were priced at approximately $5 a year for each child.
Melissa Kearney from the University of Maryland, and Phillip Levine from Wellesley College, deduced that exposure to the show improved children's school readiness.
Those who had access to the show were 14 percent less likely to be behind in school, and more likely to achieve the expected grade level for their age.
Keramey and Levine attributed these positive effects to the program’s academic focus, oriented around reading and maths.
The findings were based on a comparative look at the educational performance of children who lived in those areas that received greater broadcast coverage of the program.
Before the spread of cable, only two thirds of the US population were able to receive the show — TV broadcasts were transmitted on two different signals, VHF and UHF. Sesame Street was broadcast on VHF.
Due to variations in federal licensing, public channels in cities, such as New York and Boston, aired on VHF channels while others such as Los Angeles and Washington, aired on UHF.
This provided researchers with two ready-made random samples, differing in exposure to the program.
The analysis could thus focus in on cities that had high or low levels of access to the show, and then use census data to track children from those cities through school.
The research was cited as evidence of the potential of massive open online courses, MOOCs, to educate children and even adults more effectively. The report surmised:
In essence, Sesame Street was the first MOOC Although MOOCs differ in what they entail, Sesame Street satisfies the basic feature of electronic transmission of online educational material. Both Sesame Street and MOOCs provide educational interventions at a fraction of the cost of more traditional classroom settings.If we can do this with ‘Sesame Street’ on television, we can potentially do this with all sorts of electronic communications.
More about Sesame street, Education, Learning, MOOCs, Preschool
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