Study: Kids can learn as much from ‘Sesame Street’ as from preschool
By Jim Tankersley June 7, 2015 The Washington Post
NEW YORK — Most Americans born since the mid1960s have a favorite “Sesame Street” skit. Jennifer Kotler
Clarke watched hers on a blackandwhite television set in her family’s Bronx apartment. There were two aliens: One
of them had long arms that didn’t move, while the other had short, moving arms. The aliens wished to eat apples
from a tree, and they succeeded, after a couple of minutes, by working together. “Let’s call this cooperation,” one of
them says. “No,” the other replies, “let’s call it Shirley.”
Clarke grew up to be the show’s vice president for research and evaluation, and she has long believed that the
program’s laughs and lessons stick with children. Now, landmark academic research appears to back her up.
The most authoritative study ever done on the impact of “Sesame Street,” to be released Monday, finds that the
famous show on public TV has delivered lasting educational benefits to millions of American children — benefits as
powerful as the ones children get from going to preschool.
The paper from the University of Maryland’s Melissa Kearney and Wellesley College’s Phillip Levine finds that the
show has left children more likely to stay at the appropriate grade level for their age, an effect that is particularly
pronounced among boys, African Americans and children who grow up in disadvantaged areas.
After “Sesame Street” was introduced, children living in places where its broadcast could be more readily received
saw a 14 percent drop in their likelihood of being behind in school. Levine and Kearney note in their paper that a
wide body of previous research has found that Head Start, the prekindergarten program for low income Americans,
delivers a similar benefit. For more please visit: http://wapo.st/1eX9l7s