According to a recent study published by the Washington Post, Arkansas is the 15th dumbest state in America.
Arkansas residents have an average IQ slightly lower than the national average and a college graduation rate way below the national average.
But which cities in Arkansas are contributing to the state-wide intelligence deficit the most?
After crunching the numbers, we came up with this list of the ten dumbest cities in the Natural State:
- Helena-West Helena
- Fort Smith
- Hot Springs
How we determined the dumbest cities in the Natural State
In order to rank the dumbest cities in Arkansas, we had to determine what criteria defines a dumb person.
We started by making a list of every place in the U.S. with over 5,000 adults based on the 2014 American Community Survey. That left us with 44 places to rank.
We then looked at the following dumb-tastic criteria for each of the places on the list:
- % of city’s population with less than a high school education (Age 25+)
- % of high school dropouts (Ages 16-19)
Note: We looked at the graduation rates of the entire population, not the current rates for high schoolers.
Adult Population: 6,089
Adults Without High School Diploma: 30.1%
Teenage High School Drop Outs: 12.5%
You couldn’t hope to find a dumber city in Arkansas than Hope, a city where over 30% of the population hasn’t finished high school and the dropout rate is more than 4 times higher than the state average.
Hope has the highest percentage of residents without a high school education of any place in Arkansas (double the state average of 15%), and the fourth highest current dropout rate.
Coincidentally, Hope is also the birthplace of both Bill Clinton and Mike Huckabee, so whichever way you swing politically, you can blame Hope’s stupidity for “educating” these men.
2. Helena-West Helena
Adult Population: 6,838
Adults Without High School Diploma: 23.9%
Teenage High School Drop Outs: 21.6%
Helena-West Helena earns the role of second dumbest city in Arkansas mostly due its current dropout rate of 21.6%, which is the worst in the state.
That means more than 1 in 5 high school students are dropping out in Helena-West Helena, a rate six times higher than the rest of Arkansas. Yikes.
And just because Helena-West Helena’s rate of residents without a high school education is much lower than Hope’s, doesn’t mean that there’s really much to celebrate.
The fact that nearly a quarter of the city’s population over the age of 25 hasn’t finished high school is the fourth worst rate in Arkansas. This could help explain why people have been leaving this place in droves in recent years.
Adult Population: 5,717
Adults Without High School Diploma: 22.1%
Teenage High School Drop Outs: 21.5%
Newport may not seem like a stupid place, since it’s home to an Arkansas State University campus and the city where Sam Walton of Walmart owned his first store.
But Newport’s current dropout rate of 21.5% is the second worst in the state, only a fraction less than that of Helena-West Helena.
Since 22.1% of the Newport’s 25+ population is already walking around without a high school degree, it seems the next generation is going to be just as ill-educated as those that preceded it.
Adult Population: 42,163
Adults Without High School Diploma: 29.2%
Teenage High School Drop Outs: 5.9%
Springdale is the fourth biggest city in Arkansas and has seen a massive boom in its population (over 130% from 1990) in recent decades.
This population boom may help explain the disparity between a relatively decent dropout rate (only 2.3% higher than the state average) and the horrible rate of residents over 25 without a high school degree (the second worst in state and nearly double Arkansas’ average).
The folks who are moving to Springdale may not be educated themselves, but they’re placing a greater importance on education in the upcoming generation.
Adult Population: 8,788
Adults Without High School Diploma: 16.6%
Teenage High School Drop Outs: 13.4%
Harrison’s stupidity is derived mostly from its current dropout rate of 13.4%, the third worst rate in Arkansas.
About 15.1% of Arkansas’ population over 25 doesn’t have a high school degree, so Harrison’s 16.6% rate is not horrible, given the context of being located in a slightly dumber state than most.
A dropout rate nearly equivalent to the rate of the population without a high school degree means that the next generation will likely be just as uneducated as the one that came before.
Adult Population: 16,236
Adults Without High School Diploma: 18.8%
Teenage High School Drop Outs: 6.3%
Since its home to Arkansas Tech University and the state’s only nuclear power plant, it may seem a bit odd that Russellville is the sixth dumbest city in Arkansas.
Yet Russellville has the tenth worst rate of high school dropouts of any place in Arkansas, with 6.3% of students opting not to finish basic education.
Couple that with the fact that three times as many folks in Russellville over the age of 25 never finished high school and you’ve got yourself a really uneducated city.
7. Fort Smith
Adult Population: 56,410
Adults Without High School Diploma: 19.5%
Teenage High School Drop Outs: 5.7%
The dropout rate in Fort Smith is slightly lower than Russellville, but the percentage of people over 25 without a high school degree is slightly higher.
When nearly a fifth of your city’s population never completed high school, you know you’re living in a place that doesn’t value education.
On the other hand, Fort Smith’s dropout rate is the lowest on this list, and only 2.1% higher than the state average.
Adult Population: 6,763
Adults Without High School Diploma: 16.3%
Teenage High School Drop Outs: 9.6%
The percentage of people over 25 in Batesville without a high school degree is actually the lowest (best) on this list, and only 1.2% higher than Arkansas average.
However, nearly 1 in 10 of Batesville’s high school students are dropping out, so the next generation may be less intelligent than their peers.
9. Hot Springs
Adult Population: 24,734
Adults Without High School Diploma: 18.3%
Teenage High School Drop Outs: 6.3%
Hot Springs comes in as the ninth dumbest city in Arkansas due to bad scores in both categories.
The dropout rate in Hot Springs is 6.3%, which is 75% higher than the state average.
On top of that, 18.3% of folks over the age of 25 in Hot Springs never finished high school, altogether making for one of the dumbest cities in Arkansas.
Adult Population: 9,518
Adults Without High School Diploma: 17.0%
Teenage High School Drop Outs: 7.2%
The percentage of Blytheville’s adult population without a high school degree actually isn’t so horrible in the context of Arkansas; it’s only 1.9% higher than the state’s average of 15.1%.
But Blytheville’s dropout rate of 7.2% is twice as high as the state’s average.
Putting a dunce cap on our analysis
If you’re measuring the locations in Arkansas where there are a high number of teenage dropouts and adults who never received a formal education, this is an accurate list.
Of those cities with populations above 5,000, here are the smartest cities in The Natural State: Maumelle, Greenwood, Fayetteville, Marion, Conway.