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U.S. Department of Education Funded Study Demonstrates, WordWorld, a PBS KIDS(R) Television Series Works as Critical Early Literacy Tool
Date:12/11/2008

NEW YORK, Dec. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- A U.S. Department of Education funded study found that WordWorld, an Emmy(R) winning PBS KIDS series, significantly strengthens early literacy skills in preschoolers, providing the building blocks essential for learning how to read. The study is part of the Ready To Learn Initiative that examines the effectiveness of various technologies being used to enhance the literacy skills of young children. The initial findings conclude that regular exposure to WordWorld resulted in children experiencing significant increases in oral vocabulary, reading and recognition of words featured in the show. WordWorld brings words to life through a patent-pending methodology that embeds words into the objects they represent, crystallizing the connection between letters, sounds and words.

Overall gains from the study demonstrate that regardless of demographic, children developed important early literacy skills by watching WordWorld during the trial period. Key findings include:

    -- Children doubled their oral vocabulary skills of words featured in
       WordWorld
    -- Children tripled their ability to read specific words featured and
       built in WordWorld
    -- Children in disadvantaged households where English is a second language
       showed gains in phonemic awareness, as well as oral vocabulary and
       reading words featured in WordWorld

"We set out with the goal of delivering a critical literacy tool to moms, children and educators that would bridge the gap between letter recognition and reading," said Don Moody, CEO and Creator of WordWorld. "We are thrilled to find that by all measures, WordWorld is proven to advance children's literacy skills and prepare them for school."

The innovative WordWorld platform was developed in response to the National Reading Panel report, which set the standards for assessing the effectiveness of methods used in early literacy instruction(1). By collaborating with top literacy experts from around the United States to target early literacy skills identified as most critical for supporting reading success, WordWorld reinforces the pre-literacy concept that letters (and their sounds) make words and that words have real meaning.

"This study, utilizing rigorous scientific methodology and conducted in collaboration with leading researchers at six major universities, is designed to assess the effectiveness of an educational media product, WordWorld," said Dr. Michael Cohen, president of the Michael Cohen Group LLC. "The results are encouraging: WordWorld is effective, with participating children acquiring essential early literacy skills."

To measure the effectiveness of the popular television series, the Michael Cohen Group LLC, in collaboration with university partners at Stanford University, University of New Mexico at Albuquerque, University of Texas at Austin, Mississippi State, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, and City University of New York, Graduate Center used a rigorous study design, known as a randomized controlled trial, to conduct the study. The sample size was comprised of 795 children in 105 preschool programs and featured different demographics across the university test sites across the nation. Each participating preschool was randomly assigned into one of two groups, those who watched WordWorld and those who did not.

The Ready To Learn Partnership was launched in 2005 to tackle the growing literacy crisis in the United States. It is a public-private consortium consisting of WTTW Channel 11 in Chicago, the Michael Cohen Group LLC, the Learning Box and WordWorld. To learn more about the Ready To Learn Partnership and WordWorld visit http://www.rtlp.org and http://pbskids.org/wordworld.

The Ready To Learn Partnership

The Ready To Learn Partnership (RTLP) is a consortium of children's media creators, early childhood educators, communications professionals, evaluators and a public television affiliate that was awarded a Ready To Learn Cooperative Agreement in 2005 by the U.S. Department of Education. Funded activities are focused on creating and researching media-based interventions to engender young children's early literacy acquisition, with an emphasis on children living in families at the lowest income levels. The WordWorld television series, the first of four properties being produced by the RTLP, was created to meet these objectives.

About WordWorld, LLC

WordWorld, LLC, created by Don Moody, is a multimedia platform that engages kids through television (PBS Kids), via interactive resources, and with learning products available at Target. Through a first-of-its-kind, patent-pending learning tool, all "WordWorld" products embed words into images to enhance word recognition. WordWorld, LLC is part of the Ready To Learn Partnership (RTLP), a public-private consortium awarded a five-year multimillion dollar grant by the U.S. Department of Education. Members of the consortium include Chicago PBS member station WTTW and the Michael Cohen Group, an international research firm responsible for formative and summative testing of the show. For more information please visit the company's website at http://www.WordWorld.com/presskit.

About Michael Cohen Group LLC

Michael Cohen Group LLC (MCG) is an independent research and public opinion firm with expertise in education, children, youth, adolescents, families, media, policy and strategic communications. MCG, headquartered in New York, is the principal evaluation team of the Ready To Learn Partnership (RTLP), awarded the Ready to Learn Media Grant by the U.S. Department of Education. For more information visit http://www.mcgrc.com.

About WTTW National Productions

WTTW National Productions is a premier producer and presenter of original, high-quality television programs for both public and commercial television broadcast. WTTW National Productions is a division of Window to the World Communications, Inc., the parent company of WTTW11 Chicago. For more than 50 years, WTTW11 and WTTW National Productions have introduced a wide array of ground-breaking television programming -- reflecting the world's rich and diverse arts and entertainment scene as well as education, politics, public affairs, business, and religion -- to a national audience.

(1) National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel. Teaching children to read: an evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction. Retrieved November 13, 2008, from http://www.nichd.nih.gov/publication/nrp/smallbook.cfm

The contents of this press release were developed under a Cooperative Agreement from the U.S. Department of Education. However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government


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