Study Finds Sesame Street Improves School Readiness

Photo of Levine and Kearney with Jim Hensen, Kermit the Frog StatueNew research, coauthored by Wellesley College economist Phillip B. Levine and University of Maryland economist Melissa Kearney, finds that that greater access to Sesame Street in the show’s early days led to improved early educational outcomes for children. The study found:

  • The introduction of Sesame Street to America’s preschoolers helped a generation of kids do better in school. When the show first aired in 1969, five million children watched a typical episode—the preschool equivalent of a Super Bowl every day.
  • Boys and black, non-Hispanic children experienced the biggest improvements in school performance.
  • Effects are largest for children living in economically disadvantaged areas.
  • Sesame Street is one of the largest and most affordable early childhood interventions ever to take place.

Read the Full Paper.

Read the Press Release.

Read the Executive Summary by Melissa S. Kearney and Phillip B. Levine.

Image: Professors Levine and Kearney with the Jim Henson statue at the University of Maryland, Kearney's institution and Henson's alma mater

Early Childhood Education by MOOC: Lessons from Sesame Street.

Professor Levine gave Wellesley's 2015 Distinguished Faculty Lecture. Watch Early Childhood Education by MOOC: Lessons from Sesame Street.


Click on the image below to download an infographic (PDF).