According to a recent Washington Post study, Tennessee trails the most of the nation in terms of intelligence, ranking as the 18th dumbest state in America, with the 10th lowest average IQ in the nation.
On top of that, Tennessee has much fewer college graduate residents than most states. Well, our list looks at cities who are struggling with even basic education, so these are the places that are really giving Tennessee a bad name intellectually.
After crunching the numbers, we came up with this list of the ten dumbest cities in the Volunteer State:
How we determined the dumbest cities in the Volunteer 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 Tennessee:
- % 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 97 cities in Tennessee to rank. We also looked at the graduation rates of the entire population, not the current rates for high schoolers.
Adults Without High School Diploma: 33.4%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 11.9%
According to the data, LaFollette, a city 40 miles north of Knoxville, is the dumbest city in all of Tennessee. How’d it earn this title?
Well for starters, LaFollette has the highest rate of uneducated adults in the state, with about 1/3 of adults lacking a high school diploma. That’s more than twice as high as the state average for cities with populations over 5,000.
The teenagers in LaFollette don’t do much to help the city’s smartness scores, since about 12 of every 100 drop out of high school each year, a rate that’s about three times as high as the state average.
Adults Without High School Diploma: 26.5%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 11.4%
Located about 45 miles west of Knoxville, Rockwood may not give the world a lot of intelligence, but it did give the world Megan Fox, so it’s not all bad.
More than a quarter of Rockwood’s residents over the age of 25 do not have a high school diploma, giving the city the fifth highest rate of uneducated adults in the state.
The current high school dropout rate for teenagers in Rockwood is also exactly three times as high as the state average, with 11.4% of students dropping out each year.
Adults Without High School Diploma: 24.7%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 13.0%
McMinnville is a city about 75 miles southeast of Tennessee’s capital, Nashville.
The rate of uneducated adults in McMinnville is the ninth highest in Tennessee, with only about 75% of residents over the age of 25 possessing a high school diploma.
Add to that the fact that 13 of every 100 McMinnville teenagers drops out of high school each year – a rate that ranks as the fifth highest in the state – and you’ve got yourself a dimwitted city overall.
Adults Without High School Diploma: 25.8%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 4.8%
Apparently Covington is dumber than it is dangerous; another article we wrote ranked it as the sixth most dangerous city in Tennessee.
Located a few miles from the Mississippi River in western Tennessee, Covington’s teenagers aren’t the main source of the city’s stupidity; the current teenage high school dropout rate is 4.8%, which is only 1% higher than the state average.
The city’s adults are the real culprits, as more than 1 in 4 residents over the age of 25 lack a GED, which is the sixth highest rate in the state.
Adults Without High School Diploma: 22.7%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 8.0%
This. Is. Sparta!!!!!!!!! Also, this is the fifth dumbest city in the state of Tennessee.
Located right between Knoxville and Nashville, Sparta has both its teenagers and its adults to blame for its position on this list.
8% of teenagers in Sparta drop out each year, which is more than twice as high as the state average.
22.7% of the city’s adults also never completed high school, which is in the bottom 20% of Tennessee cities with populations greater than 5,000.
Adults Without High School Diploma: 19.5%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 17.5%
Located about 30 miles north of Nashville, Springfield’s main source of stupidity is an alarmingly high rate of teenagers dropping out of high school.
With 17.5% of teenagers leaving high school each year, Springfield’s dropout rate more than quadruples the state average, and ranks as the fourth highest in the state.
About 1 in 5 adult residents of Springfield never attained a high school diploma, which is 4% higher than the state average.
Adults Without High School Diploma: 23.9%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 4.7%
About an hour’s drive northeast of Nashville, Hartsville ranks as the seventh dumbest city in Tennessee.
About 24 of every 100 adults living in Hartsville lack a high school degree, which gives the city the 14th highest rate of uneducated adults in the state.
The current rate of residents between the ages of 16-19 leaving high school isn’t nearly as bad, but, at 4.7%, it’s still about 1% higher than the state average.
Adults Without High School Diploma: 18.9%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 9.5%
Bristol is located on the border of Virginia in northeastern Tennessee. The city has officially been recognized by Congress as the birthplace of country music, but it’s also the eighth dumbest city in its state.
Only about 81% of Bristol’s adult population possesses a GED and 9.5% of the city’s teenagers are dropping out of high school each year.
That gives Bristol the ninth highest teenage high school dropout rate in Tennessee.
Adults Without High School Diploma: 22.3%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 5.1%
Located in southwestern Tennessee, Savannah is the ninth dumbest city overall in the state.
22.3% of the Savannah’s residents over the age of 25 never completed high school, which doesn’t exactly set a good example for the younger generation.
Fortunately, only 5.1% of Savannah’s teenagers currently drop out of high school, which is only a bit higher than the state average.
Adults Without High School Diploma: 18.5%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 9.7%
Located 25 miles southeast of Knoxville, Sevierville is the last city on our list of dumbest places in Tennessee.
The rate of uneducated adults in Sevierville is only 3% higher than the state average, so that’s not the real reason for its stupidity.
The teenagers in Sevierville are the real problem; with about 1 in 10 students dropping out of high school each year, Sevierville’s dropout rate is about 2.5 times worse than the state average, and the eighth highest rate in the state.
Putting a dunce cap on our analysis
If you’re measuring the locations in Tennessee 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 Tennessee, in order: Germantown, Brentwood, Arlington, Lakeland, and Oakland. All five, with the exception of Brentwood, are in southwestern Tennessee.
Germantown, Arlington, and Lakeland are all in Shelby County, while Oakland is in neighboring Fayette County. Brentwood is an affluent suburb of Nashville.
Other notable cities: Tennessee’s capital, Nashville, was right in the middle of the pack, ranking as the 52nd dumbest city in the state out of 97 cities.
Knoxville ranked slightly dumber than Nashville, ranking as the 51st dumbest city in the state; Knoxville’s adults are more educated than Nashville’s, but Knoxville’s current dropout rate for teenagers is slightly higher than Nashville’s.
Memphis ranked as the 20th dumbest city in Tennessee, with below average scores in both categories.
Chattanooga is slightly smarter than Memphis, but it still ranks as the 26th dumbest city in the state.
Detailed List Of Dumbest Cities In Tennessee