Washington isn’t an incredibly dumb state, but it’s also far from the smartest state in America.
A recent Washington Post study found Washington to be the 23rd smartest state in the union, with above average scores in every intelligence metric except for SAT scores.
While the Evergreen State is about average on the smartness scale, our list is based on completion rates of basic education, and these are the cities that are holding the state back from a higher intelligence score overall.
After crunching the numbers, we came up with this list of the ten dumbest cities in the Evergreen State:
How we determined the dumbest cities in the Evergreen 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 Washington:
- % 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 118 cities in Washington 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: 38.6%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 23.7%
Located in eastern Washington, Othello, unfortunately, gets the title as the dumbest city in the whole state. How did we assign such a horrible title to Othello?
Well, the city has the highest rate of teenagers dropping out of high school, with in absurdly high 23.7% dropout rate; that’s about 1 in 4 teenage students just saying no to basic education.
The lack of motivation in the younger generation might have something to do with the adult population not placing much importance in formal education; an incredible 38.6% of adults living in Othello never acquired their GED, which, shockingly, is only the sixth highest rate of Washington cities with populations over 5,000.
Adults Without High School Diploma: 47.7%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 15.5%
A city in southern Washington, Sunnyside may have a super-optimistic name, but it’s hard to find much cheer in having such an under-educated population.
A whopping 47.7% of Sunnyside residents over the age of 25 lack a GED, which is only the third highest rate in Washington for the cities we measured.
Considering almost half of the adult population here is uneducated, the 15.5% teenage high school dropout rate seems like a modest improvement. But it’s still the sixth highest dropout rate in the state.
Adults Without High School Diploma: 20.2%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 23.6%
Located near Mount St. Helens in the southwestern part of Washington, Kelso ranks as the third dumbest city in the state overall.
Kelso’s high school dropout rate for teenagers is just a smidge lower than Othello’s, with 23.6% of students dropping out each year. That’s the second highest rate in the state.
With about 1 in 5 adult residents lacking a high school diploma, Kelso’s adult population doesn’t do much to help out its smartness score. Since the city’s teens are dropping out at higher rates than their elders, Kelso is guaranteed to get dumber as the years go by unless things change.
Adults Without High School Diploma: 21.2%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 15.2%
Connell’s population is 2/3 male, so its ranking as the fourth dumbest city in Washington doesn’t exactly reflect well on men.
21.2% of Connell’s residents over the age of 25 do not possess a high school diploma, which is the tenth highest rate in the state.
15.2% of teenagers in Connell also drop out of high school each year, which the eighth highest rate in Washington.
Adults Without High School Diploma: 19.4%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 14.7%
The westernmost city on the Puget Sound, Shelton ranked as the sixth most dangerous city in Washington in one of our other lists. When you look at the unbiased numbers, apparently, in some cases, there’s a co-relation between criminals and a lack of education.
19.4% of Shelton’s adult residents lack a GED; that’s about 1 in 5 people over the age of 25 who might still struggle with the difference between your and you’re.
What’s even more troubling, Shelton’s teenage population is dropping out of high school at the ninth highest rate in Washington, with about 15 of every 100 students currently opting out of a high school diploma each year.
Adults Without High School Diploma: 26.8%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 13.0%
The teens are a little brighter in Yakima than they are in Shelton, but the adults are far less educated. Combined, this keeps Yakima just out of the top 5 Washington ‘dumb’ list.
Yakima may be the sacred source of a lot of our beer, but it’s lagging behind in terms of intelligence, with more than 1 in 4 adult residents lacking a high school education.
The city also has the fourteenth highest teenage high school dropout rate in the state, with 13% of teenagers leaving school each year.
Adults Without High School Diploma: 54.0%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 8.4%
Just about 20 miles southeast of Yakima, Toppenish has the second highest rate of uneducated adults in Washington.
More than half (54% to be exact) of Toppenish residents over the age of 25 lack a high school diploma, which makes it one of the least likely places in the state to start a Book of the Month club.
The current dropout rate for teenagers is 8.4%, which is better than most other cities on this list, meaning things might be turning around here.
Adults Without High School Diploma: 19.4%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 10.4%
Located just south of Seattle, Tukwila is apparently more dangerous than it is dumb; it ranked as the most dangerous city in Washington in another study we conducted.
Roughly 2 in 10 adult residents here lack a GED, and about 1 in 10 teenagers drops out of high school each year, which cumulatively, makes for a fairly uneducated city overall.
Adults Without High School Diploma: 15.4%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 17.9%
Located about 30 miles north of Portland, Woodland’s main reason for being on this list is its current teenage high school dropout rate.
With 17.9% of teenage students leaving high school each year, Woodland has the third highest dropout rate in Washington.
The city’s dropout rate is even higher than its rate of uneducated adults, basically guaranteeing that Woodland will only grow dimmer with time, unless things change.
Adults Without High School Diploma: 58.5%
Teenage High School Dropouts: 6.2%
Wapato, a city 15 miles south Yakima, is the strangest city to make this list because of the huge difference in its uneducated adult population and its current teenage high school dropout rate.
Wapato has the highest rate of uneducated adults in the state, with 58.5% of adult residents lacking a high school diploma.
On the other hand, the city has the lowest current high school dropout rate for teenagers (on this list), but with 6.2% of students leaving school each year, the city is still ranked in the bottom 33% of cities we measured.
Putting a dunce cap on our analysis
If you’re measuring the locations in Washington 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 Washington, in order: Ridgefield, Mercer Island, Issaquah, Sammamish, and DuPoint. Mercer Island, Issaquah, and Sammamish are all located in King County.
Other notable cities: Seattle ranked as the 40th smartest city in the state, with a super low teenage high school dropout rate of 2.6%.
Washington’s capital, Olympia, fared slightly better than Seattle, ranking as the 35th smartest city in the state, but with a slightly higher dropout rate.
Spokane was right in the middle of the pack, ranking as the 57th smartest (or 62nd dumbest) city in Washington.
Tacoma ranked as the 27th dumbest city in the state.
Detailed List Of Dumbest Cities In Washington
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