For the first time in over 10 years, Baltimore is not considered one of the United States' Most Literate Cities.For over thirteen years, Dr. Jack Miller, President Emeritus of Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Conn, has been publishing a list of the United States' Most Literate Big Cities. He starts with the list of the country's largest cities and proceeds to rank them in terms of literacy. However, he considers literacy to be more than just being able to read. Miller ranks cities in terms of how much they actually read. To accomplish that, he has to look beyond educational levels or budgets. The studies focus on other variables, such as how many bookstores a community has, access to
2016 marked the first time Baltimore has ever ranked in the 30s. The closest the city ever came was in 2007 when the city was #27 overall on the literacy list. As recently as 2014, Baltimore ranked #15 - the highest position it has ever held on the list. The jump from #15 to #31 is one of the largest seen in the survey, so we wanted to dive deeper into the methodology to see just why Baltimore slid so far down in the rankings. To arrive at a ranking, Dr. Miller uses composite scores for six literacy variables. 1. The number of booksellers per 100,000 residents. 2. An educational attainment index, measuring percentages of the adult population holding high school and bachelors degrees. 3. Use of internet resources. 4. Available public library resources. 5. Newspaper subscription totals. 6. Magazine and periodical subscription totals. [caption id="attachment_773" align="aligncenter" width="481"] Baltimore's 2014 literacy category scores[/caption] In 2014, Baltimore scored better-than-average scores in every category except Education, where the city's ranking was #50 out of 77 large cities. This year, however, Baltimore's scores dropped in almost every category. [caption id="attachment_774" align="aligncenter" width="480"] Baltimore's 2016 literacy category scores[/caption] Baltimore's scores fell in the Education (#50→#51), Internet (#10→#55), Library (#27→#31) and Newspaper (#28.5→#42) categories. Though, the city actually increased the number of bookstores per 100,000 residents. The biggest drop came in the Internet category. Is this demotion deserved? Yes and no. This year, Dr. Miller changed the way he calculated cities' Internet scores. In previous years, smaller cities without data for residents' Internet usage were given last place on the category rankings. For example, data aggregators did not consider Aurora, Colorado large enough to warrant its own Internet usage data set. In 2014, this lack of data left Aurora tied for last place in Dr. Miller's Internet ranking. However, starting in 2016, Aurora was reclassified as part of the Denver metropolitan area. As a result, Aurora, CO jumped all the way to being tied with Denver for the 9th position on the list. When you take this change into account, along with the addition of 5 new cities to the list, you can account for some of Baltimore's fall in the rankings, but not all of it. A more accurate way to look at it is that Baltimore probably never should have been ranked as high in literacy as it was. Had it not been for artificially high Internet rankings balancing the city's poor Education statistics, Baltimore's overall literacy rankings would have been much lower for the past decade. So the good news is that Baltimore's literacy rank didn't really plummet. The bad news is that it has probably been low all along.
1. Washington, DC 2. Seattle, Washington 3. Minneapolis, Minnesota 4. Atlanta, Georgia 5. San Francisco, California 6. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 7. Portland, Oregon 8. Cincinnati, Ohio 9. St. Paul, Minnesota 10. Boston, Massachusetts 11. Denver, Colorado
12. St. Louis, Missouri 13. Raleigh, North Carolina 14. Nashville-Davidson, Tennessee 15. Durham, North Carolina 16. Kansas City, Missouri 17. Austin, Texas 18. Honolulu, Hawaii 19. Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky 20. Colorado Springs, Colorado 21. Cleveland, Ohio 22. Chicago, Illinois 23. Columbus, Ohio 24. Lincoln, Nebraska 25.5 New Orleans, Louisiana 25.5. Tulsa, Oklahoma 27. Orlando, Florida 28. New York, New York 29. Indianapolis, Indiana 30. Oakland, California 31. Baltimore, Maryland 32. San Diego, California 33.5. Omaha, Nebraska 33.5 Plano, Texas 35. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 36. Irvine, California 37. St. Petersburg, Florida 38. Greensboro, North Carolina 39. Sacramento, California 40. Louisville-Jefferson Co., Kentucky 41. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 42. Dallas, Texas 43. Virginia Beach, Virginia 44. Charlotte, North Carolina 45.5. Albuquerque, New Mexico 45.5. Buffalo, New York 47. Milwaukee, Wisconsin 48. Newark, New Jersey 49. Fort Wayne, Indiana 50. Miami, Florida 51. Tampa, Florida 52. San Jose, California 53. Tucson, Arizona 54. Anchorage, Alaska 55. Jacksonville, Florida 56. Toledo, Ohio 57. Detroit, Michigan 58. Las Vegas, Nevada 59. Santa Ana, California 60. Jersey City, New Jersey 61. Wichita, Kansas 62. Aurora, Colorado 63. Chandler, Arizona 64. Fort Worth, Texas 65. Phoenix, Arizona 66.5. Arlington, Texas 66.5. Memphis, Tennessee 68. Los Angeles, California 69. Riverside, California 70. Houston, Texas 71. Henderson, Nevada 72. Long Beach, California 73. Mesa, Arizona 74. Chula Vista, California 75. Fresno, California 76. San Antonio, Texas 77. Corpus Christi, Texas 78. Anaheim, California 79. Stockton, California 80. El Paso, Texas 81. Bakersfield, California 82. Laredo, Texas