Educational TV intentionally rooted in early learning research and racial equity is integral to school readiness and success.
Click on the key facts below to learn more.
Early learning is a critical component of school success.
- “Students who are ready for kindergarten in more areas of development are more likely to meet math and reading standards in 3rd grade.” - WaKIDS Data Brief (2018)
- “Early learning covers all areas of a child’s learning and development. In the years from birth through 3rd grade, children gain physical and social skills, and develop emotionally and cognitively.” - WA Early Learning Guidelines (2012)
- Every child in Washington has diverse strengths rooted in his or her family’s unique culture, heritage, language, beliefs, and circumstances. Early learning that supports the full participation of every child builds on these strengths by fostering a sense of belonging and supporting positive social relationships.” - WA Early Learning Guidelines (2012)
The school readiness and achievement gap in Washington State is prominent among Black, Native and Spanish-speaking children.
- “Nationwide, low-income students and students of color perform, on average, below their peers. So it is imperative to evaluate whether we’re helping these young people catch up… Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, and Washington were clear laggards, with less progress in closing gaps—and in fact, more gap widening—than anyplace else in the country.” - Gauging the Gaps, The Education Trust (2010)
- “According to data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Washington is one of the nine states where the overall achievement gap is actually growing. The disparities are evident on every academic measure in Washington, from grade-level assessments and graduation rates to the percentage of students passing advanced placement exam.” - Washington’s Achievement Gap, League of Education Voters (2011)
- “The percentage of young children who are kindergarten-ready is substantially lower for Native American, Black, Hispanic and Pacific Islander young children, who are less likely to enroll in a private early childhood education and must compete for state funded ECEAP (Early Childhood Education and Assistant Program) slots.” Statewide Indicators of Education System Health, State Board of Education (2018)
- “This achievement gap begins in the early grades and persists over time. Just 32.3% of Hispanic students, for example, met standards in all six domains of school readiness on the WA Kids assessment, compared to 53.3% of their white peers.” - Getting Ready to Succeed, WA-IDS Early Childhood Data Review Report (2017)
- “African American children on average start kindergarten significantly behind their peers in their early learning development – particularly with vocabulary, early literacy skills, number sense, and social behavior.” - WA African American Achievement Gap Report (2008)
Systemic racism and a lack of positive diverse media representation play major roles in why this gap exists.
- “More than an issue of poverty, the achievement gap is also about race. Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) data reveal that White and Asian students in poverty score higher than African American students not in poverty.” - WA African American Achievement Gap Report (2008)
- “The persistence of institutional and interpersonal discrimination is driven by the racism that remains deeply ingrained in American culture. Ideas of Black inferiority and White superiority have historically been embedded in multiple aspects of American culture, and many images and ideas in contemporary popular culture continue to devalue, marginalize, and subordinate non-White racial populations.” - Racism and Health, Williams & Mohammed (2013)
- “For many years, researchers have found disparities between the racial, ethnic, and gender demographics in the world of children’s television compared to the racial, ethnic, and gender demographics in our actual population. Content analysis work has consistently found not only vast underrepresentation of characters of color and female characters, but also significant differences in the roles they play and in their portrayal.” - Children’s Television Project, Tufts University (2018)
- “Although Blacks and other minorities appear more frequently on TV than in the past, a recent study... found that more negative nonverbal behavior (facial expressions and body language) is directed toward Black characters than toward status-matched White characters and that exposure to nonverbal bias increased viewers’ bias.” - Racism and Health, Williams & Mohammed (2013)
Educational TV is an important tool that can be used to address the achievement gap by showcasing people of color and providing parents and caregivers with the resources for school readiness and success.
- “Society-wide reductions in prejudice, stereotypes, and discrimination will require large-scale adoption and implementation to alter deeply embedded cultural beliefs about race. Programs that recruit and train opinion leaders can affect cultural norms and risk behaviors given the role that these individuals can play in fostering innovation and change. Thus, television has enormous potential to affect attitudes and stereotypes.” - Racism and Health, Williams & Mohammed (2013)
- “Studies from many fields have shown that it’s important for children to see characters who not only look like themselves and their families, but also sound like them. There’s a relationship between low self-esteem and negative media portrayals of racial groups, in addition to an association between poor self-esteem and the paucity of portrayals of a particular group. Others have found that media misrepresentations of ethnic groups can cause confusion about aspects of their identity among children of these groups.” - Dr. Julie Dobrow, Tufts University (2018)
- “Watching educational programming, at least in small amounts, is associated with high levels of school-related and language skills… Good educational programs can provide lasting benefits to children at many ages, but it may be especially important to provide such fare for very young children because they are less likely than older children to be exposed to formal preschool instruction and because stable habits of viewing may be formed in the first few years of life.” - The Early Window Project, Wright et al. (2001)
- “Beneficial effects of television programs with academic and prosocial messages have long been documented. Preschool children who view academically oriented television programs are often better prepared for school and are often even better students when they attend high school.” - Lessons from Children’s Television, Calvert et al. (2003)
Television and general media consumption is highest among children of color, indicating the value in creating educational television programming that is accessible and relatable to these communities.
- “Black and Hispanic children consume nearly 4½ hours more media daily... Some of the largest differences are in TV viewing: Black children spend nearly 6 hours and Hispanics just under 5½ hours, compared to roughly 3½ hours a day for White youth.” - Generation M2 Study, The Kaiser Family Foundation (2010)
- “Given the tremendous role media play in the lives of all young people today, and given the additional four and a half hours a day of media consumption among minority youth, the purpose of this report is to briefly hit a national “pause” button: to stop and take note of these differences, to consider the possible positive and negative implications for young people’s health and well-being, and to reflect on how each of us can respond in our own realms.” - Center on Media and Human Development, Northwestern University (2011)