Where Does My City Rank On The Dumb Scale (1 Is Dumbest)?
Iowa is a pretty great state with some wonderfully friendly and hospitable people.
And when it comes to brains, Iowa is one of the smartest states in the nation. In fact, a recent Washington Post study found it to be the 8th smartest state in America, wedged between New Jersey and Vermont. And, we called Iowa the 2nd best state in the nation to live not too long ago.
That doesn’t mean every single place in Iowa is filled to the brim with brainiacs. In fact, by looking at the data, we can see which Iowa cities are contributing to the state’s intelligence deficit the most.
After crunching the numbers, we came up with this list of the ten dumbest cities in the Hawkeye State:
- Eagle Grove
- Storm Lake
- Sioux Center
- Sioux City
How we determined the dumbest cities in the Hawkeye 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 Iowa:
- % of city’s population with less than a high school education (Age 25+)
- % of high school drop outs (Ages 16-19)
Note: We only looked at cities with populations greater than 2,000, leaving us 119 cities in Iowa to rank. We also looked at the graduation rates of the entire population, not the current rates for high schoolers.
1. Eagle Grove
Adults Without High School Diploma: 17.2%
Teenage High School Drop Outs: 23.4%
When you look at the data, Eagle Grove, northwest of Fort Dodge, is the dumbest city in Iowa.
17% of adults over the age of 25 are without a high school diploma, which is almost twice as high as the state average.
But the teens are where the real problem lies. Nearly a quarter of 16-19 year olds aren’t currently in school, which is 8 times higher than the state average.
Sounds like the kids here need to hit the books a lot more.
Adults Without High School Diploma: 18.3%
Teenage High School Drop Outs: 14.2%
The kids in the Ottumwa area lot brighter than in Eagle Grove, but the adults are a lot dumber. Only 82% of adults in this small city along Route 34 have a high school diploma, which is the 7th lowest rate in the state.
Incidentally, the high school kids’ dropout rate of 14% is also the 7th highest in Iowa.
Adults Without High School Diploma: 12.9%
Teenage High School Drop Outs: 25.7%
Shenandoah has the 2nd least educated teenage population in the state, where more than 1 in 4 kids has decided that skipping school is cool.
Their parents are twice as smart, but still a full 4% dumber than the state average of 9%.
Shenandoah is a small city along Route 59.
Adults Without High School Diploma: 19.7%
Teenage High School Drop Outs: 6.4%
So far, the ‘dumbest’ cities in Iowa are out in the sticks, away from major city centers.
Take the small city of Marshalltown for instance. This city has an adult population that’s twice as uneducated as most Iowans, making this a difficult place to start a book of the month club.
Their kids are on the smarter end, but at 6%, the dropout rate here is twice as high as in the average Iowa city.
5. Storm Lake
Adults Without High School Diploma: 33.4%
Teenage High School Drop Outs: 5.8%
Storm Lake sits on the banks of…Storm Lake in western Iowa. The adults have set themselves up for a hard life, considering than 1 in 3 isn’t high school educated. That’s the 2nd highest rate in Iowa.
Adding to the dumbness are the kids, who are dropping out at a rate above the state average themselves.
6. Sioux Center
Adults Without High School Diploma: 14.3%
Teenage High School Drop Outs: 7.2%
Here in Sioux Center, the adults are 5% less educated, and the kids are twice as unintelligent as the state averages.
Adults Without High School Diploma: 11.4%
Teenage High School Drop Outs: 27.7%
Anamosa, a bit of a drive northeast of Cedar Rapids, is a cute little city. Unfortunately, it has the most uneducated teenage population out of any city in the state. At nearly 28%, that’s 9 times higher than the state average.
The kids aren’t following in their parents footsteps here, either. At 89%, their graduation rate is really low, but still higher than most other cities on this list.
8. Sioux City
Adults Without High School Diploma: 16.4%
Teenage High School Drop Outs: 6.0%
Sioux City’s motto is, “Successful, Surprising, Sioux City.” But when you look at the numbers, the adult population wasn’t very successful in school.
The largest city on this list is the 8th dumbest overall when you look at the data. Sioux City high schoolers also get stupid points with a dropout rate that’s twice the state average.
There are six secondary learning institutions in Sioux City, but for many of the current crop of kids, attending them will be unattainable unless they get back to class.
Adults Without High School Diploma: 13.7%
Teenage High School Drop Outs: 7.6%
High schoolers in Waterloo are 1.6% less ‘smart’ than the kids in Sioux City, but the adults are 3% ‘smarter,’ making Waterloo a bit smarter overall.
However, both graduation rates are far below the state average, giving Waterloo high marks on the dumb scale.
Adults Without High School Diploma: 13.8%
Teenage High School Drop Outs: 5.3%
Unfortunately, Centerville is one of the centers for unintelligence in the state of Iowa. High school kids are carrying the weight for the 14% of the adult population that never got a high school diploma by the age of 25.
Centerville residents might not win any Trivial Pursuit contests any time soon.
Putting a dunce cap on our analysis
If you’re measuring the locations in Iowa 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 smartest cities in Iowa: Polk City, Le Claire, Carlisle, Johnston, and Ankeny.
Other cities of note: Des Moines is the 17th dumbest city in Iowa, as its adult population has a 12.7% non-diploma rate. Davenport and Cedar Rapids are somewhere in the middle. Davenport’s adults are far dumber than those in Cedar Rapids, but the Davenport kids are a tad bit brighter than Davenport’s.
In all seriousness we had to give a plug to a good cause. If you’ve ever considered adopting a child in Iowa, give Iowa Kids a look. Kids need help, and we can help them: https://www.iowakidsnet.com/
Detailed List Of Dumbest Cities In Iowa
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