Iowa public schools posted a terrific 91.4% graduation rate in 2018, a figure that has steadily improved over the past decade. With such a high percentage of students earning their high school diplomas, public school districts in the state are definitely doing something right. In fact, Iowa’s top public school districts can boast about even more impressive statistics.
Gilbert Community School District is the top ranked public school district in Iowa. Located in the dead center of the state, the district’s Gilbert High School earned an Iowa Report card better than 99% of the schools of the state, as well as a 2014 Blue Ribbon Schools award.
Based in Polk County six miles outside of capital Des Moines, Ankeny Community School District is #2 on the list of Iowa’s best school districts. In the past decade, the fast growing district’s schools have earned many accolades, including a 2013 Sunny Award.
#3 Waukee Community School District serves over 11,000 students in four communities in Dallas County. Its graduation rate of 99.26% is one of the highest in the state.
Ranking fourth is Decorah Community School District of Winneshiek County, a small district of three elementary schools, a middle school and a high school. In 2011, Decorah High School was named a National Blue Ribbon School.
Johnston Community School District, also in Polk County, ranks fifth on the list. Established in 1914, the district boasts over 100 years of history and service to the community.
Top School Districts in Iowa, 2019
Rank School District County City State
1 Gilbert Comm School District Story County Gilbert Iowa
2 Ankeny Comm School District Polk County Ankeny Iowa
3 Waukee Comm School District Dallas County Waukee Iowa
4 Decorah Community School District Winneshiek County Decorah Iowa
5 Johnston Comm School District Polk County Johnston Iowa
6 Pleasant Valley Comm School District Scott County Bettendorf Iowa
7 Treynor Comm School District Pottawattamie County Treynor Iowa
8 Northeast Comm School District Clinton County Goose Lake Iowa
9 Pella Comm School District Marion County Pella Iowa
10 East Marshall Comm School District Marshall County Gilman Iowa
11 Urbandale Comm School District Polk County Urbandale Iowa
12 North Polk Comm School District Polk County Alleman Iowa
13 Southeast Polk Comm School District Polk County Pleasant Hill Iowa
14 GMG Comm School District Tama County Garwin Iowa
15 Solon Comm School District Johnson County Solon Iowa
16 Dallas Center-Grimes Comm School District Dallas County Dallas Center Iowa
17 Denver Comm School District Bremer County Denver Iowa
18 Cedar Falls Comm School District Black Hawk County Cedar Falls Iowa
19 Western Dubuque Comm School District Dubuque County Farley Iowa
20 Linn-Mar Comm School District Linn County Marion Iowa
21 Norwalk Comm School District Warren County Norwalk Iowa
22 Ames Comm School District Story County Ames Iowa
23 MOC-Floyd Valley Comm School District Sioux County Orange City Iowa
24 Earlham Comm School District Madison County Earlham Iowa
25 West Burlington Ind School District Des Moines County West Burlington Iowa
The following contributed to the ranking: number of students (K-12), graduation rate, teacher quality, school funding, student to teacher ratio, standardized test results (reading and math; the percentage of students scoring at or above state proficiency level). Data from a total of 10,728 school districts had sufficient values for the variables above.