After analyzing over 500,000 tweets from across the country, the results indeed show a variance by state and region.
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While the scores overall were relatively low (states fell between a fourth grade and sixth grade reading level), the required brevity of tweets is likely the cause of this and the comparison of states is the real measurement of interest.
So what’s behind the varying reading grade levels? First, it’s important to note that the age of the tweeter was not taken into consideration. However, even without that stipulation, a clear regional pattern emerged and coincides fairly well with state educational performance statistics.
Map Of Reading Level By State Based On Tweets
Cream of the Crop
The top eight states that demonstrated their reading level best on Twitter are all in the North and are split equally between the Northeast and the cluster of states that include Minnesota, both Dakotas, and Montana.
In the well-recognized State of the States in Education report that is based on 2009 data, half of those states were listed in the top 20% of states for 8th-grade reading proficiency.
I don’t think I’m breaking new ground when I say the majority of the states come up somewhere in the middle on our reading level scores.
Somewhat unexpectedly, high school graduation rates did not correlate with several of these states’ middle-of-the-road tweeting abilities: Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, New Hampshire, Tennessee, and Texas were among the top 10 states with the highest graduation rates in 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
Bottom of the Barrel
Of the five states that ranked the lowest in grade-level reading ability in our analysis of tweets, four of them also ranked in the top six of worst-educated states in 2011:
With a grade-level reading score of 4.25, Louisiana came in last for us, despite the Big Easy state achieving a score on the high end of average (with a C+ grade) and ranking No. 15 in Education Week’s 2013 annual “Quality Counts” report card.
Is there a relation between IQ levels and the reading level of Tweets by state?
While we were doing our research, we noticed a not-entirely-unexpected correlation between the estimated average state IQ levels and the respective reading levels of the tweets produced in each state.
An interesting question which is not explored here would examine the reason behind this correlation. Are worse writing skill correlated with lower IQ scores, are IQ tests necessarily biased to the better educated?
Perhaps there should be a class on incorporating proper grammar, spelling, and word choice into tweets…
Map Of IQ Level By State Based On VCU Data