This study attempts to capture one critical index of our nation's social health—the literacy of its major cities (population of 250,000 and above). This study focuses on six key indicators of literacy: newspaper circulation, number of bookstores, library resources, periodical publishing resources, educational attainment, and Internet resources (introduced in the 2005 study).
This set of factors measures the practices of literacy--people's use of their literacy--and thus presents a complex and nuanced portrait of our nation's cultural vitality. From this data we can better perceive the extent and quality of the long-term literacy essential to individual economic success, civic participation, and the quality of life in a community and a nation.
As I've mentioned before, the ranking is necessarily an interpretation of data. What matters most is not whether the rank ordering changes but what communities do to promote the kinds of literacy practices that the data track.
Dr. John W. Miller,
Central Connecticut State University