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The Debrief

How the most popular content categories vary by state

The Newsela Team
Nov 20, 2019

With Newsela, teachers have access to more than 20 genres of content tailored to spark a variety of different discussions in the classroom. From science to social studies to sports, articles are selected to cover a diverse set of subjects, the goal being that teachers, schools, and states can use Newsela to support a wide range of content needs. Surveying the most popular content categories by state and observing how they differ, it’s encouraging to see how our goal of providing diverse content is being reflected in schools across the country.

Broadly speaking, the most-read content topics by state can be divided into six themes: Science, Social Studies, Kids, Sports, Law, and Health. Within those top-level themes are a wide-ranging set of subtopics, and it’s interesting to note where there are commonalities and overlap—and where there are some surprising outliers.

The most popular content category is Science, and we see 28 states where science stories top the list when categorizing articles by topic. Science subtopics vary greatly state by state, however, and while Animal Studies is a common sub theme, it’s by no means the only one. Science subtopics that are uniquely popular in their states include Climate Change (Connecticut), Wind Phenomena (Delaware), Earthquakes and Tectonics (New Hampshire), and Celestial Bodies (South Dakota).

Social Studies is also a popular category across the country, with 13 states seeing that as their top-ranking theme. The subtopic of Culture, Society & Ethics is the most-read sub theme, but other Social Studies subtopics that appear for specific states are Sociology (Idaho), Ancient Rome (Rhode Island), and the Persian Gulf War (Vermont).

The remaining high-level themes—Kids, Sports, Law, and Health—belong to a smaller number of states, and the subtopics vary widely. In Nebraska, Photography is the most popular content topic; in Utah, students are reading articles in the Labor Rights category. American Football and the Olympics are popular topics in the classrooms of Iowa, North Dakota, and Wyoming, and the only state in which the most popular theme for articles is Health is Alaska.

Overall, the map of the most popular content categories by state tells a compelling story: across the country, schools are using Newsela to help students engage with a diverse range of themes and topics.

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