These Are The 10 Dumbest Cities In Iowa


We used science and data to determine which Iowa cities are dumb as rocks.

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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:

  1. Eagle Grove (Photos)
  2. Ottumwa (Photos)
  3. Shenandoah (Photos)
  4. Marshalltown (Photos)
  5. Storm Lake (Photos)
  6. Sioux Center (Photos)
  7. Anamosa (Photos)
  8. Sioux City (Photos)
  9. Waterloo (Photos)
  10. Centerville (Photos)

For more Iowa reading, check out:

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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.

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1. Eagle Grove

Dumbest Iowa

Population: 2,393
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.

2. Ottumwa

Dumbest Iowa

Population: 16,555
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.

3. Shenandoah

Dumbest Iowa

Population: 3,710
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.

4. Marshalltown

Dumbest Iowa

Population: 17,945
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

Dumbest Iowa

Population: 6,285
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

Dumbest Iowa

Population: 3,849
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.

7. Anamosa

Dumbest Iowa

Source: Google Maps

Population: 4,058
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

Dumbest Iowa

Source: Public domain

Population: 51,962
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.

9. Waterloo

Dumbest Iowa

Source: Public domain

Population: 44,912
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.

10. Centerville

Dumbest Iowa

Population: 3,944
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

City Rank Population Adults Without High School Diploma Teenage High School Drop Outs
Eagle Grove 1 2,393 17.2% 23.4%
Ottumwa 2 16,555 18.3% 14.2%
Shenandoah 3 3,710 12.9% 25.7%
Marshalltown 4 17,945 19.7% 6.4%
Storm Lake 5 6,285 33.4% 5.8%
Sioux Center 6 3,849 14.3% 7.2%
Anamosa 7 4,058 11.4% 27.7%
Sioux City 8 51,962 16.4% 6.0%
Waterloo 9 44,912 13.7% 7.6%
Centerville 10 3,944 13.8% 5.3%
Waukon 11 2,768 14.0% 5.0%
Burlington 12 17,483 10.8% 7.6%
Council Bluffs 13 40,696 12.5% 5.7%
Keokuk 14 7,316 11.6% 6.5%
Harlan 15 3,612 9.9% 8.3%
Muscatine 16 15,481 16.1% 3.7%
Des Moines 17 132,557 12.7% 4.6%
Charles City 18 5,305 12.4% 4.8%
Denison 19 4,920 33.8% 1.4%
Manchester 20 3,381 11.1% 4.9%
Tipton 21 2,203 10.1% 6.3%
Evansdale 22 3,150 11.7% 4.6%
Nevada 23 4,722 8.9% 12.5%
Fort Dodge 24 16,518 10.9% 4.8%
Oskaloosa 25 7,581 10.8% 4.8%
Oelwein 26 4,265 14.2% 2.9%
Atlantic 27 4,969 8.3% 17.2%
Osceola 28 3,091 17.2% 1.0%
Clinton 29 18,417 11.6% 3.7%
Estherville 30 3,978 14.0% 2.8%
West Liberty 31 2,350 24.7% 0.0%
Creston 32 5,356 8.0% 7.7%
Humboldt 33 3,240 8.6% 7.3%
Perry 34 4,949 23.4% 0.0%
Hampton 35 2,926 21.4% 0.0%
Winterset 36 3,517 6.9% 20.3%
Iowa Falls 37 3,480 8.3% 6.9%
New Hampton 38 2,429 10.4% 3.7%
Red Oak 39 3,891 14.6% 0.0%
Algona 40 4,001 6.7% 9.3%
Onawa 41 2,065 6.2% 21.8%
Rock Valley 42 2,154 14.3% 0.0%
Albia 43 2,644 14.2% 0.0%
Spirit Lake 44 3,570 7.2% 6.8%
Davenport 45 66,527 9.3% 4.0%
Clarinda 46 3,891 12.7% 0.6%
Huxley 47 2,054 6.3% 8.6%
Dubuque 48 38,813 9.0% 3.8%
Fort Madison 49 7,582 8.7% 4.3%
Maquoketa 50 4,075 9.5% 3.1%
Newton 51 10,416 9.2% 3.6%
Webster City 52 5,578 11.8% 0.0%
Carter Lake 53 2,523 11.7% 0.0%
Chariton 54 2,884 10.0% 1.3%
Independence 55 4,006 8.7% 3.7%
Knoxville 56 4,868 9.6% 2.1%
Le Mars 57 6,823 10.4% 0.6%
Mount Pleasant 58 5,622 7.8% 3.9%
Dyersville 59 2,841 10.6% 0.0%
Cherokee 60 3,716 10.5% 0.0%
Altoona 61 9,912 5.3% 5.9%
Story City 62 2,431 10.2% 0.0%
Jefferson 63 3,132 9.9% 0.0%
Cedar Rapids 64 83,621 6.7% 4.0%
Cresco 65 2,562 9.8% 0.0%
Asbury 66 2,877 5.2% 5.1%
Mason City 67 19,062 7.7% 2.9%
Carroll 68 7,030 9.4% 0.0%
Emmetsburg 69 2,568 9.2% 0.0%
Fairfield 70 6,706 4.9% 5.3%
Clive 71 10,976 6.7% 3.2%
West Burlington 72 2,086 9.2% 0.0%
Monticello 73 2,633 9.0% 0.0%
Washington 74 5,108 9.0% 0.0%
Adel 75 2,680 8.9% 0.0%
Sheldon 76 3,645 8.7% 0.0%
Vinton 77 3,515 6.9% 1.8%
Glenwood 78 3,629 7.8% 0.2%
Grinnell 79 5,295 6.9% 0.8%
Orange City 80 3,440 5.7% 2.4%
Pella 81 6,046 7.2% 0.0%
Williamsburg 82 2,178 7.2% 0.0%
Pleasant Hill 83 6,168 7.1% 0.0%
Spencer 84 7,930 7.0% 0.0%
Boone 85 8,648 5.7% 0.7%
North Liberty 86 9,269 2.0% 4.8%
Sergeant Bluff 87 2,501 6.4% 0.0%
Coralville 88 12,491 4.9% 2.0%
Bettendorf 89 23,712 3.4% 3.1%
Hiawatha 90 4,748 6.0% 0.0%
Marion 91 24,203 4.3% 2.3%
Bondurant 92 2,299 5.8% 0.0%
Waverly 93 6,027 5.6% 0.5%
Cedar Falls 94 21,270 5.1% 0.7%
Decorah 95 4,477 5.4% 0.0%
Urbandale 96 28,071 3.1% 3.0%
Milford 97 2,126 5.3% 0.0%
Garner 98 2,044 5.1% 0.0%
Indianola 99 9,108 3.5% 1.1%
Forest City 100 2,704 5.0% 0.0%
Osage 101 2,567 4.9% 0.0%
Iowa City 102 36,819 4.6% 0.0%
Clear Lake 103 5,646 4.4% 0.0%
Camanche 104 3,070 4.2% 0.0%
West Des Moines 105 40,400 4.1% 0.0%
Eldridge 106 3,736 3.8% 0.0%
Norwalk 107 6,102 3.5% 0.0%
Robins 108 2,238 3.4% 0.0%
De Witt 109 3,584 3.3% 0.0%
Windsor Heights 110 3,387 3.2% 0.0%
Ames 111 27,391 2.5% 0.6%
Mount Vernon 112 2,111 3.1% 0.0%
Waukee 113 10,288 2.7% 0.0%
Grimes 114 5,787 2.6% 0.0%
Ankeny 115 31,666 2.5% 0.0%
Johnston 116 12,707 2.5% 0.0%
Carlisle 117 2,535 2.3% 0.0%
Le Claire 118 2,779 2.2% 0.0%
Polk City 119 2,390 2.0% 0.0%

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3 thoughts on “These Are The 10 Dumbest Cities In Iowa

  1. I now know this is bs because likely 1 in 3 adults in Storm Lake is an immigrant. That’s unfortunate, but to equate that with “dumb” is just…stupid.

  2. Never seen any posts on Facebook from the average Des Moines resident, have you? Only about 20% know the difference between there, their, and they’re. And driving around these geniuses? Forget it. Rock bottom on the scale of unintelligence since they are too illiterate to read signs.

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