Iowa, or the “Hawkeye State,” is a secret haven in the Midwest. Lush trees and picturesque scenes make it an ideal home for families looking to settle down amidst peace and tranquility. Showcasing progressive values, this state has also become renowned for its fantastic educational offerings, which reflect its commitment to equality.
When it comes to finding the right school, there's no one-size-fits-all approach. A good school provides a safe and nurturing environment, challenges its students academically, and offers a variety of extracurricular activities for kids to develop their skills and interests.
In this blog, we've compiled a list of Iowa's top-rated schools. We based the list on schools' academic excellence, extracurricular opportunities, faculty experience, and overall student experience. We also considered GreatSchools.org test scores, overall ranking, and parent and student reviews for the ranking.
Here are the ten best schools in Iowa today, ranked in ascending order.
Best Elementary Schools
Pleasant View Elementary School
6333 Crow Creek Road, Bettendorf, IA 52722
Pleasant View Elementary School is a public school in the Pleasant Valley Community School District. It is an excellent choice for families looking for a top-rated education in Iowa. With grades ranging from K-6, the school has an enrollment of 681 students. Further, it has received a perfect 10/10 rating from GreatSchools.org.
Students at this school consistently outperform the state average in math, reading, and science. 95% of students attain proficiency in math, 90% in reading, and 93% in science. The school's student-teacher ratio of 15:1 is only slightly higher than the state average of 14:1.
In addition to its strong academic programs, students are encouraged to explore various interests and develop diverse skills. From arts to athletics, academic clubs to extracurricular activities, every student is motivated by their educators and peers alike to discover something new. Many opportunities await at this school for each child's growth into an all-rounded individual.
Parents of students at Pleasant View Elementary School have spoken highly of the school's friendly and responsible teachers and the involvement of parents in classroom activities and school programs.
Pleasant View Elementary School is a great choice for families seeking a top-rated public school in Iowa that offers excellent academic programs, extracurricular opportunities, and a safe and inclusive learning environment.
Northeast Elementary School
1705 Northeast Trilein Drive, Ankeny, IA 50021
Northeast Elementary School, located in the Ankeny Community School District, is another exceptional public school in Iowa. This school educates students from pre-kindergarten to grade 5 and has a student population of 697. Northeast Elementary has received a 10/10 overall rating from GreatSchools.org.
The standardized test scores at Northeast Elementary School are far above the state average. In fact, the large majority of students attain proficiency in reading, math, and science. In reading, 89% of students achieved proficiency, while 92% attained proficiency in math and 94% in science.
With a student-teacher ratio of 18:1, the school's classrooms offer students an opportunity to receive individualized attention from experienced and certified teaching staff. Nearly all the full-time teachers at Northeast Elementary are certified. Further, 97% have at least three years of experience in teaching. The school has a full-time nurse and social worker.
Northeast Elementary School's excellent test scores, experienced teaching staff, and commitment to providing high-quality education make it a top-rated school in Iowa.
North Polk Central Elementary School
311 Northeast 141st Avenue, Alleman, IA 50007
North Polk Central Elementary School is a public school dedicated to providing an exceptional education for pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students. With 387 enrolled and ranked 10/10 by GreatSchools.org, this top-rated campus boasts highly qualified teachers offering thoughtful support in both the academic setting and within its connected community.
The school outperforms state averages in reading, math, and science. Specifically, 91%, 94%, and 94% of students, respectively, achieve proficiency in each subject. The school offers a challenging and engaging curriculum focused on developing core skills in reading, writing, and mathematics, as well as critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork.
The faculty at North Polk Central Elementary School proudly employs experienced and talented educators. 96% boasting three or more years on the job, in fact. All teachers are certified, with an impressive student-teacher ratio of 16:1 – far above state averages. Plus, there's always a full-time nurse for even greater care provided to students.
Parents have consistently praised the school's faculty and leadership for their exceptional teaching skills and dedication to student success. With a focus on academic excellence and a commitment to fostering a love of learning, North Polk Central Elementary School is an excellent choice for families seeking a high-quality education for their children in Alleman.
North Polk West Elementary School
1400 West Broadway Street, Polk City, IA 50226
North Polk West Elementary School is a public school in the North Polk Community School District, serving students from Pre-K through 4th grade. With a student population of 551, the school has a student-teacher ratio of 17:1, slightly above the state average. The school earns a perfect 10/10 rating from GreatSchools.org.
The school's standardized test scores are far above the state average, with most students performing at or above grade level. Students at this school perform better in math, science, and reading than their peers across the state. The school has reading proficiency rates of 89%, math proficiency rates of 95%, and science proficiency rates of 93%.
North Polk West Elementary School also has a dedicated and experienced faculty. 90% of the school's teachers have at least three years of teaching experience, and 100% of full-time teachers are certified. The school also has a full-time nurse on staff.
Parent reviews of the school are overwhelmingly positive. Many comment on the school's ability to challenge students who need greater challenge and provide extra support for those in need. Overall, North Polk West Elementary School is an excellent choice for families seeking a small community setting for their children in Polk City.
Best Middle Schools
Pella Middle School
613 East 13th Street, Pella, IA 50219
Pella Middle School, located in the Pella Community School District, serves 7th and 8th-grade students. With a student population of 379, the school prides itself on providing a well-rounded education that integrates character development into student learning. The school has an overall rating of 9/10 on GreatSchools.org. It also boasts standardized test scores that are far above the state average.
The school offers a range of courses and programs that provide its students with a rich academic and co-curricular experience. For instance, students can take world language classes in Spanish or participate in music programs such as band, orchestra, and choir. The art program offers a variety of art forms, including ceramics, sculpture, painting, and printmaking.
Pella Middle School is dedicated to helping its bright and talented students reach the heights of success. Their gifted and talented program seeks to foster a challenging learning environment that aids intellectual, academic, and personal growth.
The school has a student-teacher ratio of 16:1, slightly higher than the state average of 14:1. However, the teachers at Pella Middle School are experienced, with 100% of full-time teachers being certified and having at least three years of experience. The school also has a part-time nurse.
Pella Middle School is an outstanding school that provides a comprehensive education for its students, with a focus on character development and academic excellence. It's a top-rated choice for middle schools in Iowa.
Mount Vernon Middle School
525 Palisades Road Southwest, Mount Vernon, IA 52314
Mount Vernon Middle School is a public school located in the Mount Vernon Community School District, serving students in grades 5-8. The school has a total enrollment of 447 students and has received a 9/10 rating from GreatSchools.org.
The school is an impressive academic powerhouse, with 91% of students succeeding in reading and 88 to 93 percent excelling in math & science. Its competitive curriculum delves into honing vital intellectual abilities such as critical thinking, analysis, and problem-solving skills for future success.
In addition to the core classes, students can participate in fine arts classes such as band, chorus, and orchestra, as well as extracurricular activities like football, volleyball, cross country, wrestling, basketball, track, and softball.
The student-teacher ratio at Mount Vernon Middle School is 15:1, which is slightly higher than the state average of 14:1. However, the vast majority of teachers have at least three years of experience, and all full-time teachers are certified. The school also has a full-time nurse on staff.
The school encourages students to foster their love of learning and grow their confidence while developing strong relationships with teachers and staff. The school's 1:1 technology program and quality extra-curricular programs also play a vital role in providing students with a well-rounded education that prepares them for success in the future.
Denver Middle School
540 Lincoln Street, Denver, IA 50622
Denver Middle School is a public school located in Denver, Iowa, and is part of the Denver Community School District. The school serves students in grades 6-8 and has an enrollment of 188 students. According to GreatSchools.org, Denver Middle School has a perfect 10/10 rating.
Outstanding standardized test scores show that 94% and 97% of students have reached proficiency in reading and math, respectively, while over one-third are already conquering Algebra 1 – with perfect success rates.
Denver Middle School offers a rigorous academic curriculum that prepares students for high school and beyond. The teachers are experienced and certified, with all full-time teachers certified. The student-teacher ratio, at 24:1, is higher than the state average. The school also has a part-time nurse available to provide medical assistance to students in case of emergencies.
While the student-teacher ratio is higher than the state average, the experienced and certified teachers and the school's focus on fostering a love for learning among students make Denver Middle School an excellent choice for families in Denver, IA.
Best High Schools
Turkey Valley Jr-Sr High School
3219 Iowa 24, Jackson Junction, IA 52171
Turkey Valley Jr-Sr High School is a public school located in the Turkey Valley Community School District, serving students in grades 7-12. With an enrollment of 166 students, it offers a small school setting that focuses on academic excellence. According to GreatSchools.org, the school has an 8/10 rating and performs above the state average in most subjects. The school records an impressive 4-year high school graduation rate of 100%.
Turkey Valley Jr-Sr High School's students perform above the state average in most subjects, with 79% of students achieving proficiency in reading, 90% in math, and 85% in science. The school also has a respectable average ACT score of 22.
Turkey Valley Jr-Sr High School offers two AP courses in Computer Science, including AP Computer Science A and AP Computer Science Principles. While only 2% of students participate in AP courses, 53% of students in grades 9-12 are enrolled in dual enrollment classes. The availability of dual enrollment courses provides students with an opportunity to earn college credit while still in high school.
The school has a student-teacher ratio of 22:1, which is slightly above the state average. However, 94% of teachers have at least three years of experience, and 100% of full-time teachers are certified. Additionally, the school has a part-time nurse.
Turkey Valley Jr-Sr High School provides a small school environment focusing on academic excellence and college readiness, making it an excellent option for families in Jackson Junction.
Northeast Iowa Charter High School
305 Pember Street, Maynard, IA 50655
Northeast Iowa Charter High School is a public charter school that serves grades 9-12, located in the West Central Community School District. The school has a small student population of only 80, which allows for a low student-teacher ratio of 5:1, much lower than the state average of 14:1.
The school's website states that the primary design and focus of the charter is the development of career academics and pathways with a post-secondary institution beginning in middle school. The charter provides students with a fast track to completion of post-secondary training in either an associate's degree or a four-year course of study.
The school has an impressive graduation rate of 100%. The school's overall ranking from GreatSchools.org is 9/10. The school also has above-average standardized test scores, with 94% of students attaining proficiency in math, 88% in reading, and 88% in science. All full-time teachers are certified. Additionally, 93% of teachers have at least three years of experience. The school also has a part-time nurse.
The school's small size and low student-teacher ratio allow for a more personalized education experience, making it an excellent choice for families in Maynard, IA.
Paton-Churdan Jr-Sr High School
606 Adrian Street, Churdan, IA 50050
Paton-Churdan Jr-Sr High School is an exceptional public school that serves 112 students from grades 7 to 12. In this tight-knit learning community, each student receives a supportive and collaborative education experience with the backing of an excellent academic reputation – consistent across all grade levels and rated 10/10 by GreatSchools.org.
Students at Paton-Churdan Jr-Sr High School attain proficiency in math at a rate of 91%, in reading at a rate of 86%, and in science at a rate of 91%. In addition, the school boasts a 100% four-year high school graduation rate. The school also has an 11% SAT/ACT participation rate and a 12% AP course participation rate, which allows students to challenge themselves academically.
Paton-Churdan Jr-Sr High School offers a range of co-curricular activities to enrich students' learning experiences. Students can participate in clubs such as the National Honor Society, choir, band, and yearbook.
The student-teacher ratio at Paton-Churdan Jr-Sr High School is 16:1. 85% of the faculty members have three years or more of teaching experience, while all full-time teachers are certified. The school also has a part-time nurse.
The school’s tightly-knit community makes it an excellent choice for families living in Churdan.
Finding the Right School for Your Child
With a wealth of excellent educational opportunities, Iowa is the perfect place for families looking for an outstanding school experience. From high-caliber academic programs and exceptional standardized test scores to impressive graduation rates and diverse activities – there's something special about each of these ten top-rated schools in this guide. Discover which institution will ensure your student obtains the highest quality education available in the Hawkeye State.