These Are The 10 Dumbest Cities In Missouri


We used science and data to determine which of Missouri’s cities are dumb as rocks.

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Missouri is by no means a stupid state; a recent study by The Washington Post found that it’s actually the 16th smartest state in America, with above average scores in every metric of intelligence except for college grads.

So which cities in Missouri are holding the state back from being better the national average in this category? It’s the cities that have lots of folks who never even completed basic education.

After crunching the numbers, we came up with this list of the ten dumbest cities in the Show Me State:

  1. Bonne Terre
  2. Carthage (Photos)
  3. Kennett
  4. Aurora (Photos)
  5. Poplar Bluff (Photos)
  6. De Soto
  7. Cameron (Photos)
  8. Lebanon (Photos)
  9. Caruthersville (Photos)
  10. Dexter (Photos)

Where Does My City Rank On The Dumb Scale (1 Is Dumbest)?

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How we determined the dumbest cities in the Show Me State

We realize that formal education isn’t everything when it comes to being smart, but on the other hand not knowing the difference between they’re, their, and there is always going to make you look pretty stupid.

So we narrowed down our criteria to focus both on a city’s educational opportunities and what percentage of the population takes advantage of those opportunities.

In short, we came up with these criteria to determine the dumbest cities in Missouri:

  • % of city’s population with less than a high school education (Age 25+)
  • % of high school dropouts (Ages 16-19)

Note: We only looked at cities with populations greater than 5,000, leaving us 128 cities in Missouri to rank. We also looked at the graduation rates of the entire population, not the current rates for high schoolers. We used the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2010-2014 American Community Survey to gather our data. If you disagree with these numbers, email them, not us.

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1. Bonne Terre

Dumbest Missouri

Source: Public Domain

Population: 7,025
Adults Without High School Diploma: 29.3%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 44.7%

According to the data, Bonne Terre is the dumbest city in Missouri. How’d it earn such a disreputable title?

It’s mostly due to the absurdly high rate of teenagers dropping out of high school; roughly 45 out of every 100 high school students drop out each year in Bonne Terre, a rate almost twice as high as the second dumbest city in Missouri and ten times worse than the state average.

Bonne Terre also has the second highest rate of uneducated adults in the state, with 29.3% of residents over the age of 25 lacking a GED.

With the current dropout rate even higher than this, Bonne Terre is guaranteed to continue being the dumbest city in Missouri for years to come.

2. Carthage

Dumbest Missouri

Population: 14,281
Adults Without High School Diploma: 30.9%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 24.7%

Trailing Bonne Terre by a small margin, Carthage has the highest rate of uneducated adults of all Missouri cities with populations over 5,000.

Nearly 1 in 3 adults living in Carthage never completed high school, which, in a city where food manufacturing and processing are the major industries, might not be so important.

What is important is that almost 1 in 4 teenagers are following in the footsteps of the preceding generation in saying no to basic education.

That means about five times as many students are dropping out of high school in Carthage as the rest of Missouri – yikes.

3. Kennett

Dumbest Missouri

Population: 11,002
Adults Without High School Diploma: 29.2%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 14.8%

The largest city in the “Bootheel” region of southeastern Missouri, Kennett also has the distinction of being the third dumbest city in the state.

It’s mainly an agricultural community, so formal education may not be as important in Kennett, but it’s still a fact that nearly 3 in 10 of adults living in Kennett don’t have a high school diploma.

The teenage high school dropout rate is also the fifth highest in the state and roughly three times higher than the state average, with 14.8% of Kennett students opting out of basic education.

4. Aurora

Dumbest Missouri

Population: 7,475
Adults Without High School Diploma: 23.2%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 18.1%

Located in southwestern Missouri, Aurora is the fourth dumbest city overall in Missouri, with the third highest rate of teenage high school dropouts in the state.

18 out of every 100 Aurora high school students drops out, meaning the city’s future population is going to be seriously under-educated.

On top of that, 23.2% of adults living in Aurora don’t possess a GED, which is the sixth highest rate in the state and double the state average for cities we looked at data for.

5. Poplar Bluff

Dumbest Missouri

Population: 17,190
Adults Without High School Diploma: 21.1%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 14.8%

Poplar Bluff’s motto might be “A City of Opportunity,” but, educationally, that’s a bit misleading.

The city has the sixth highest rate of teenage high school dropouts in Missouri, with just fewer than 15 of every 100 students dropping out each year; that’s about triple the state average for Missouri cities with populations over 5,000.

The adults living in Poplar Bluff don’t do anything to help the city’s smartness score, with about 1 in 5 residents over the age of 25 lacking a high school diploma.

6. De Soto

Dumbest Missouri

Source: Public Domain

Population: 6,449
Adults Without High School Diploma: 22.7%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 8.8%

Located in eastern Missouri, De Soto is the sixth dumbest city in the state.

The rate of GED-less adults in De Soto is twice as high as the state average for cities with populations greater than 5,000.

The current rate of teenage high school dropouts isn’t quite twice as bad as the state average, but it’s close enough to land De Soto among the dumbest cities in Missouri.

7. Cameron

Dumbest Missouri

Population: 10,008
Adults Without High School Diploma: 17.2%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 17.6%

A city in northwestern Missouri, Cameron’s population has increased rapidly since the 90’s.

The high school dropout rate for teenage students is the real reason Cameron is featured on this list. 17.6% of teenagers drop out high school each year in Cameron, a rate higher than the GED-less adults living in the city.

With a teenage dropout rate more than three times as high as the state average, Cameron is on track to have an even dumber next generation than the current one.

8. Lebanon

Dumbest Missouri

Population: 14,595
Adults Without High School Diploma: 19.3%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 11.0%

Lebanon’s known as a friendly place, but it’s far from being the smartest place in Missouri.

About 1 in 5 adults living in Lebanon never completed high school, which is well over the state average.

The high school dropout rate for teenagers is even worse; at 11%, Lebanon’s dropout rate is more than double the state average and ranks as the 11th highest rate in Missouri.

9. Caruthersville

Dumbest Missouri

Source: Public domain

Population: 6,086
Adults Without High School Diploma: 27.6%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 7.4%

Located along the Mississippi River in the “Bootheel” region of Missouri, Caruthersville is mainly on the dumb-list for its high rate of uneducated adults.

Now, 60% of the economy in Caruthersville is related to agriculture, so the fact that 27.6% adults lack a high school diploma might not matter.

But the current dropout rate in Caruthersville isn’t fantastic either, and with the fourth highest rate of uneducated adults in the state, it’s hard for Caruthersville to avoid being dubbed as dumb.

10. Dexter

Dumbest Missouri

Population: 7,902
Adults Without High School Diploma: 20.7%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 8.9%

Located in southeastern Missouri, Dexter is the tenth dumbest city in the state, ranking in the bottom 15% in each category.

More than 1 in 5 adults lack a high school diploma, which is a full 9% higher than the state average for cities with populations over 5,000.

The current high school dropout rate for teenagers is also about twice as high as the average for Missouri cities, making Dexter a dumb city overall.

Putting a dunce cap on our analysis

If you’re measuring the locations in Missouri where there are a high number of teenage dropouts and adults who never received a formal education, this is an accurate list.

If you’re curious, here are the five smartest cities in Missouri, in order: Glendale, Des Peres, Dardenne Prairie, Lake St. Louis, Chesterfield. All of these cities are suburbs of St. Louis, which itself ranked as the 27th dumbest city in Missouri.

Other notable cities: Missouri’s capital, Jefferson City, ranked as the 47th smartest city in the state, with above average rates of high school completion in both generations.

Kansas City ranked as the 51st dumbest city in the state, with slightly below average rates in both categories.

Springfield is right behind Kansas City, ranking as the 52nd dumbest city in the state.

On a lighter note, we found a video of California snobs taste testing Missouri food for the first time. It’s actually pretty hilarious. Click here to watch it.

On a serious note, we feel it’s important that all kids have a home. If you’ve ever considered adopting a child, the Missouri State Adoption Services team can help. Now is the time.

Detailed List Of Dumbest Cities In Missouri

City Rank Population Adults Without High School Diploma Teenage High School Drop Outs
Bonne Terre 1 7,025 29.3% 44.7%
Carthage 2 14,281 30.9% 24.7%
Kennett 3 11,002 29.2% 14.8%
Aurora 4 7,475 23.2% 18.1%
Poplar Bluff 5 17,190 21.1% 14.8%
De Soto 6 6,449 22.7% 8.8%
Cameron 7 10,008 17.2% 17.6%
Lebanon 8 14,595 19.3% 11.0%
Caruthersville 9 6,086 27.6% 7.4%
Dexter 10 7,902 20.7% 8.9%
Farmington 11 17,213 17.1% 13.0%
Monett 12 8,935 22.7% 7.3%
Jennings 13 14,730 20.4% 7.5%
Charleston 14 5,905 23.4% 5.3%
St. John 15 6,486 15.0% 12.4%
Excelsior Springs 16 11,391 16.5% 9.1%
Hannibal 17 17,779 17.6% 7.5%
Warrenton 18 7,974 18.8% 7.0%
Sullivan 19 7,058 19.2% 6.4%
Park Hills 20 8,714 16.7% 8.1%
Fulton 21 12,791 18.0% 6.4%
Berkeley 22 9,120 15.5% 8.7%
Bowling Green 23 5,452 22.4% 3.7%
Overland 24 16,043 14.4% 9.9%
Macon 25 5,476 15.4% 8.7%
Neosho 26 12,038 20.5% 4.1%
St. Louis 27 318,727 16.8% 6.8%
Boonville 28 8,320 14.3% 8.9%
St. Joseph 29 77,040 14.1% 7.9%
Marshfield 30 6,789 14.0% 7.9%
Dellwood 31 5,010 11.9% 11.5%
Trenton 32 6,058 14.1% 7.3%
Harrisonville 33 10,019 11.2% 11.9%
Nevada 34 8,318 17.2% 3.6%
Savannah 35 5,101 12.0% 9.3%
Richmond 36 5,702 14.5% 5.9%
Grandview 37 24,860 12.9% 7.4%
Moberly 38 13,898 15.2% 4.6%
Marshall 39 13,059 15.0% 4.3%
Ferguson 40 21,151 13.1% 6.4%
Festus 41 11,740 11.5% 8.4%
Independence 42 117,160 12.7% 6.3%
Sedalia 43 21,429 19.6% 0.8%
Arnold 44 21,020 12.3% 6.5%
Sikeston 45 16,642 17.1% 2.1%
Joplin 46 50,900 12.7% 5.6%
Troy 47 11,015 10.9% 7.7%
Bridgeton 48 11,654 7.9% 9.7%
Gladstone 49 26,032 9.5% 8.1%
Black Jack 50 6,924 6.8% 9.9%
Kansas City 51 465,005 12.0% 5.8%
Springfield 52 162,333 12.2% 4.9%
West Plains 53 12,176 16.3% 1.4%
Branson 54 10,942 12.3% 4.2%
Pevely 55 5,566 16.7% 0.0%
Kirksville 56 17,578 13.8% 2.7%
Clinton 57 9,014 15.4% 0.0%
Chillicothe 58 8,528 13.2% 2.2%
Raytown 59 29,520 8.7% 6.0%
Rolla 60 19,808 11.6% 3.5%
Maplewood 61 7,987 7.3% 6.2%
Webb City 62 10,985 13.9% 0.7%
Belton 63 23,197 9.8% 3.6%
Florissant 64 52,353 7.9% 5.2%
Bellefontaine Neighbors 65 10,823 13.5% 0.0%
Jackson 66 14,221 11.6% 2.5%
University City 67 35,226 8.1% 4.7%
Perryville 68 8,280 13.3% 0.0%
St. Ann 69 12,988 13.2% 0.0%
St. Charles 70 66,900 8.7% 3.7%
Ozark 71 18,369 11.5% 2.2%
Shrewsbury 72 6,217 4.9% 7.1%
Valley Park 73 6,980 13.1% 0.0%
Cape Girardeau 74 38,665 11.8% 1.9%
Liberty 75 29,806 7.0% 4.5%
Mexico 76 11,555 12.2% 0.9%
Bolivar 77 10,443 12.4% 0.0%
Pacific 78 6,047 12.4% 0.0%
Republic 79 15,222 6.0% 5.5%
Oak Grove 80 7,747 12.2% 0.0%
Blue Springs 81 53,053 5.9% 4.9%
Jefferson City 82 43,184 9.6% 1.9%
Pleasant Hill 83 8,173 9.1% 2.2%
Washington 84 13,982 9.7% 1.6%
Union 85 10,517 9.9% 0.9%
Warrensburg 86 19,548 6.4% 3.4%
Creve Coeur 87 17,841 2.7% 5.8%
Smithville 88 8,791 6.7% 2.6%
Willard 89 5,395 9.4% 0.0%
O’Fallon 90 81,978 5.6% 3.0%
Nixa 91 19,821 6.1% 2.4%
Hazelwood 92 25,671 8.6% 0.0%
Odessa 93 5,237 8.2% 0.0%
Lee’s Summit 94 92,813 3.6% 3.2%
Maryland Heights 95 27,420 8.0% 0.0%
Richmond Heights 96 8,526 3.2% 3.3%
Ellisville 97 9,162 4.9% 2.4%
Clayton 98 15,912 3.1% 3.1%
Grain Valley 99 13,037 7.2% 0.0%
Eureka 100 10,375 6.9% 0.0%
Columbia 101 113,155 6.4% 0.9%
Carl Junction 102 7,511 6.7% 0.0%
St. Peters 103 54,236 6.5% 0.0%
Olivette 104 7,809 6.5% 0.0%
Maryville 105 12,018 6.1% 0.3%
Kirkwood 106 27,587 2.9% 1.9%
Wentzville 107 31,591 5.5% 0.8%
Battlefield 108 5,759 5.6% 0.0%
Crestwood 109 11,934 5.4% 0.0%
Manchester 110 18,125 2.7% 1.8%
Raymore 111 19,576 4.0% 0.0%
Weldon Spring 112 5,496 3.8% 0.0%
Parkville 113 5,811 3.7% 0.0%
Waynesville 114 5,147 3.6% 0.0%
Greenwood 115 5,322 3.4% 0.0%
Kearney 116 8,845 3.3% 0.0%
Ladue 117 8,549 0.8% 1.9%
Ballwin 118 30,478 3.0% 0.0%
Wildwood 119 35,701 2.0% 1.4%
Brentwood 120 8,048 2.5% 0.0%
Webster Groves 121 23,084 2.5% 0.0%
Sunset Hills 122 8,523 2.4% 0.0%
Town and Country 123 10,890 2.3% 0.0%
Chesterfield 124 47,651 2.3% 0.0%
Lake St. Louis 125 14,759 1.8% 0.0%
Dardenne Prairie 126 12,116 1.8% 0.0%
Des Peres 127 8,443 1.5% 0.0%
Glendale 128 5,926 0.0% 0.0%

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22 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Dumbest Cities In Missouri

  1. The drop out rate quoted for Carthage Mo is entirely inaccurate. In 2014, our graduation rate was greater than 93%. If you are going to label towns as dumb, perhaps you should do some accurate research.

      1. I’ve looked all over the link you shared and I can’t seem to find the data you quoted for teenage high school dropouts ages 16-18. Could you link it directly for us to see?

        1. Because it’s ages 16-19 like it says in the article. You can create the query in American Fact Finder; it’s just specific so I can’t link directly to it. It would look something like this.

      2. You should know that the ACS stands for the “American Community Survey 5-year Estimates.” The key word being “ESTIMATES”. The data you are using is NOT from the decennial census that attempts to survey all Americans. Rather, according to the United States Census Bureau’s own website, “We randomly sample addresses in every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.” Again, a key word is “RANDOMLY”. Another key word is “SAMPLE”. Also found on the US Census Bureau’s site is the following, ” The ACS . . . is a survey sent to a small percentage of our population.” The key words are “SMALL PERCENTAGE”.

        You fail to mention this fact to your readers. Many of your readers might not be aware of the difference between the 10 year census and the limited sample data taken from the ACS ESTIMATE.

    1. If you fully read the stats it says adults with hs diploma % and % of hs drop outs. Has nothing to do with % who graduated. …. only thoes who dropped out….

  2. Yea there are a lot of dumb cities in Missouri, and Iowa, and New York. It’s a reflection of our society overall. Especially when the writers of the article can’t assemble sentences.

  3. FOUL!!! Bonne Terre and Desloge (pop 5000) SHARE a High School. You took the number of dropouts from our shared High School and divided it into Bonne Terre’s population giving you an incredibly inaccurate percentage. You make it sound like almost half the kids drop out. Do your research right before posting next time!!

    1. North County High School is made up from kids from Bonne Terre, Desloge and Valle Mines area. Since the school is in Bonne Terre they are technically correct. Desloge is probably on par with Park Hills at #20.

    2. FOUL! The data DOES NOT mention “Aurora High School” as stated on the “roadsnacks website”, but rather, only the limited “civilian population 16 to 19 years.” Of course, this population could include persons who had attended schools in another community, persons who were home schooled or who had never attended school after the mandatory legal age.

  4. The graduation rate for Carthage is totally inaccurate. I’m also curious as to whether the fact that Carthage has a sizeable adult Hispanic immigrant population who did not have the opportunity for secondary educational opportunities before coming to the US was factored in.

  5. Carthage is now overrun with Mexican adults and children who do not speak English. Mainly due to the chicken/turkey plants hiring them illegally. They don’t want to become “Americanized”, so when schools tests the minimal English speaking students, they fail. Then they drop out.

    1. The lack of educational achievement certainly does not make a person “dumb.” There are many successful people who did not finish high school and certainly weren’t “dumb”. A short list follows. . .

      Abraham Lincoln

      Henry Ford

      Thomas Edison

      Walt Disney

      Al Pacino

      John D. Rockefeller, Sr.

      Benjamin Franklin

      Richard Branson

      Louis Armstrong

      Jim Carrey

  6. Guys, the author even admitted that formal education doesn’t define whether or not a city is dumb. You’re making yourselves look worse for attacking the credibility of the study (even if it is basic) because the writer made typos. Most of the cities are very rural, and demographically speaking, the study isn’t inaccurate when you consider the dominating demographic of rural areas. Stop being butthurt.

  7. Totally inaccurate and unnecessary article. Why waste our time? Attractive pictures though! If you have time to gather these facts, best for all if they are true. You had to have included the population of both prisons in our small community. Cameron’s population is 9,868. Of this number, 3,475 are prison inmates. Our graduation rate is 89% which is over the state’s average of 87%. If it’s going to be in writing…..get it right please!

    1. Charleston (ranked 14th) is in the same position. About 1/3 of our city population is made of offenders housed in MoDOC’s Southeast Correctional Facility.

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