Ever wondered what the largest schools in Iowa are? Well, this state offers a unique blend of beautiful natural scenery, rich cultural heritage, and numerous economic opportunities. The state is the 26th largest by land mass, with a total area of 56,272 square miles. Iowa is home to roughly 3,190,369 residents, per the 2020 decennial Census, ranking as the 31st most populous state.
The state’s impressive public education system is one of the greatest pulls for families moving to “Hawkeye State.” The Iowa Department of Education oversees over 336 school districts, with roughly 1,325 public schools serving 510,661 kids in K-12.
Iowa also has several well-respected colleges, including the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and Drake University. Today’s post takes a comprehensive look at the 13 largest schools in Iowa, exploring their histories, unique characteristics, and academic offerings.
Largest Elementary Schools
Iowa Virtual Academy
306 S 1st St, Guttenberg, IA 52052
Parents looking for a flexible learning environment for their kids can find an incredible option at Iowa Virtual Academy. The school is a full-time, online public school serving kids in kindergarten through twelfth grade. Its unique course offering means that it’s one of the largest schools in the state, with 866 kids and a majority studying in the elementary section.
The school has a unique learning experience through the “Class Connect” sessions powered by the Stride K12 curriculum. It is an excellent fit for families always on the road and who hope to keep their children in school. Your child will receive personalized instruction with formal and informal assignments at the end of each lesson.
The school’s performance is slightly below the state average in core subjects, with 75% of kids attaining proficiency in reading, 64% in math, and 74% in science. After third grade, students can participate in elective units such as world language, music, and art.
Titan Hill Intermediate School
4125 Harry Langdon Blvd, Council Bluffs, IA 51503
Located in Council Bluff in Pottawatomie County, Titan Hill Intermediate is a public school serving 869 students in second through fifth grade. The school falls under the Lewis Central Community District and aims to inspire excellence in all students.
The school offers a traditional curriculum focusing on common core subjects. It also runs enrichment programs such as art and music that allow students to explore their talents and abilities outside the classroom walls. Titan Hill Intermediate also runs a talented and gifted program that seeks to provide appropriate Instruction and educational support commensurate with the talented kids’ abilities.
81% of the students gain proficiency in science and 75% in reading, matching the state’s average. 75% attain a grade at or above the proficiency requirements for math. Despite the school’s large student population, it maintains a relatively small Student-teacher ratio, with one teacher for every fifteen kids. All teachers hold appropriate state certifications, and 93% have over three years of teaching experience.
Oskaloosa Elementary School
1801 Orchard Ave, Oskaloosa, IA 52577
Located in the vibrant city of Oskaloosa in Mahaska County, Oskaloosa Elementary is a public school under the Oskaloosa Community School District. The school is home to roughly 946 kids in kindergarten through fifth grade.
The school’s curriculum provides a superb education program with students receiving Instruction in core subjects such as language arts, math, science, and social studies. Oskaloosa Elementary allows kids to participate in various enrichment programs, including art, music, media, physical education, and guidance classes.
Oskaloosa Elementary also provides special education services, Title 1 math and reading support, a talented and gifted program, and speech services. The school also has an active Parent Teacher Organization that plans numerous social events and fun activities to complement the education program.
76% of kids attain proficiency in science, 70% in math, and 71% in English, all below the state average. The school has one of the lowest Student-teacher ratios in the state, with one instructor for every twelve kids. This allows the faculty to offer personalized instruction and feedback to each child. Oskaloosa Elementary also has a full-time nurse and part-time law enforcement officer on staff.
Storm Lake Elementary School
1810 Hyland Dr, Storm Lake, IA 50588
Storm Lake Elementary is a public school within the Storm Lake Community School District. The school serves roughly 1,019 kids, earning the top spot as the largest elementary school in the state. The school has unique educational offerings, including a dual French immersion program.
Students under the program receive instruction in English and French, making it an excellent choice for families seeking to have their children learn a second language. Students at the school perform better than most of their peers across Iowa, with 89% attaining proficiency in science, 81% in math, and 72% in reading.
The school has one teacher for every sixteen kids, a student-teacher ratio slightly worse than the state average. All teachers at the school hold the necessary certifications. 82% of the instructors have over three years of teaching experience. Storm Lake Elementary also has a full-time nurse and law-enforcement officer on staff.
Largest Middle Schools
Eleanor Roosevelt Middle School
2001 Radford Rd, Dubuque, IA 52002
Eleanor Roosevelt Middle School is a highly-respected public school in Dubuque County under the Dubuque Community School District. It is one of the largest public middle schools in the state, housing roughly 1,145 kids in sixth through eighth grade.
The school offers an academically-rigorous environment for its students, a feature verified by the student’s performance in standardized tests. 86% of the kids performed at or above their grade level in math, 82% in science, and 77% in reading. All these percentages are higher than the state average.
The school offers numerous extracurricular opportunities to the students, from LEAP activities to clubs and organizations. Your child can participate in after-school activities such as Homework Help, Michaelangelo Painting, Robotics, Golf, and Bulletin Board Designing. Eleanor Roosevelt Middle also has 15 clubs and 8 organizations that students can participate in.
The school has one teacher for every thirteen kids, an incredible ratio considering the student population. Nearly all teachers have over three years of teaching experience, and all full-time faculty are certified.
North Middle School
2101 Outer Drive North, Sioux City, IA 51108
North Middle School is a public school in Sioux City in the Sioux City Community School District. The school serves roughly 1,206 kids in sixth through eighth grade. North Middle has a student-teacher ratio of 16:1, slightly higher than the state’s 14:1 average.
Test scores at the school are lower than the state average. 73% of its students gain proficiency in science and reading, while 72% attain proficiency in math. Besides the common core subjects, students can enroll in numerous elective programs, such as art, music, creative writing, drama, and Spanish.
The school also offers the PLTW gateway curriculum to kids interested in STEM courses. The school has a minority enrollment of 61%, with 71% coming from low-income households.
The school has a full-time law enforcement officer and a part-time nurse on its payroll. The faculty team at the school is also highly qualified, with all holding certifications and 87% having over three years of teaching experience.
Prairie Point Middle School & Ninth Grade Academy
8015 Kirkwood Blvd SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404
Located in the vibrant city of Cedar Rapids, Prairie Point Middle School & Ninth Grade Academy is a public school under the College Community School District. The school is home to roughly 1,338 seventh, eighth, and ninth-grade students. More than two-thirds of the student population is in the middle school section.
The school features a beautiful facility to accommodate the academic and extracurricular needs of the students. Its campus has two competition-sized gymnasiums, an extensive library, separate weight and wrestling rooms, band and choir rooms, two industrial technology rooms, an eight-lane track, and a football field.
Most students at the Praire Point perform at or above their grade level in standardized tests, with 83% attaining proficiency in science, 80% in math, and 74% in reading. Students interested in STEM courses can enroll in the Project Lead The Way( PLTW) programs for the Gateway and Engineering curricula.
Students can join one of the 20 clubs and societies or participate in dozen-plus athletic teams at Praire Point. The school enjoys a student-teacher ratio of 16:1, despite its huge enrollment. It also has a part-time nurse who cares for the kids’ health needs.
Largest High Schools
Linn-Mar High School
3111 10th St, Marion, IA 52302
Founded in 1959, Linn-Mar High School is a top-performing public school in Linn Country. It is the only high school in the Linn-Mar Community School District. The school houses 2,273 kids in ninth through twelfth grade, making it one of the largest schools in Iowa.
The school offers a rigorous college preparatory education with numerous standard-based programs. It has an average ACT score of 25. Link-Mar boasts a high school graduation rate of 94%, with 79% of the graduates proceeding to college or vocational training.
The school offers 17 AP programs, with 12% of the students participating. The school also offers dual enrollment programs where students can earn college credits, with 14% participating. The school also offers three PLTW STEM programs in Engineering, Biomedical Science, and Computer Science.
Waukee Senior High School
555 SE University Avenue, Waukee, IA 50263
Waukee High School is a highly-rated public school serving ninth through twelfth-grade students. The school has a student population of 2,277 and is in the Waukee Community School District. It has a student-teacher ratio of 17:1.
According to the school’s website, Wauke High has a four-year graduation rate of 98% and a five-year graduation rate of 99.45%. 83% of the students proceed to college or vocational training institutes. The school has an ACT composite average of 23.6, higher than the state average of 21.5.
Waukee High has a dual enrollment program in partnership with the Des Moines Area Community College, allowing its students to earn college credits while in high school. 6% of the students participate in the dual enrollment classes.
Lincoln High School
2600 SW 9th St, Des Moines, IA 50315
Lincoln High School is a public school in the Des Moines Independent Community School District. The school serves 2,423 students in ninth through twelfth grade and is the largest K-12 school in Iowa. Home of the Railsplitters, Lincoln has rich academic and sports traditions.
The school has a four-year high school graduation rate of 85%. 54% of the graduates proceed to college or vocational training. The school offers 14 advanced placement courses, in which 23% of the students participate.
Lincoln High also offers an art course, four music courses, two performance art courses, and three world languages. Students can also enroll in STEM programs in the PTLW Engineering and Computer Science curricula.
The school has one teacher for every twenty-three students. 80% of its teachers have over three years of experience, and all full-time instructors are certified. The school also has a nurse, psychologist, social worker, security guard, and law enforcement officer on staff.
Des Moines Area Community College
2006 South Ankeny Boulevard, Ankeny, IA 50023
Des Moines Area Community College is a public community college with six campuses across central Iowa. The institution has a collective student population of 20,546. The school operates on an open admissions policy, where any high school graduate or GED-holding student can enroll.
Des Moines Area Community College offers over 200 degree, diploma, and certificate courses, with an average class size of eighteen kids. Popular areas of study include Liberal arts and Humanities, health professions, and business.
The average annual tuition fee for Iowa residents is roughly $5,220, and $10,440 for out-of-state students. 70% of full-time students benefit from financial aid, with the aid averaged to $4,410.
University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa 52242
Often ranked as the best university in the state by multiple reputable review sites, the University of Iowa is a public, four-year college offering undergrad and graduate programs. The school is home to over 29,909 students, making it the second-largest tertiary institution in the state. The university has a college admissions acceptance rate of 86.2%,
The university has a 15:1 student-faculty ratio, and a 95% job or graduate school placement rate. Popular disciplines include business courses, social sciences, and health professions.
The tuition fee for Iowa residents is $8,356 per annum and $30,319 for out-of-state students. The costs can go as high as $48,000 once students factor in boarding, insurance, books, and other learning supplies.
Notable University of Iowa Alumni
Ashton Kutcher – American actor, producer, entrepreneur, and former model
Gene Wilder – American actor, comedian, writer and filmmaker
Jake Johnson – American actor, comedian, film producer and screenwriter best known for his role as Nick Miller in the Fox sitcom New Girl
D. B. Weiss – American television writer, director, and producer. Along with his collaborator David Benioff, he is best known for co-creating Game of Thrones
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011
The largest learning institution by student population in Iowa is Iowa State University. It is a public, four-year university in Ames, Iowa, that offers undergraduate and graduate programs. The school serves roughly 30,708 students.
Iowa State University is an easy school to enroll in, with an admission rate of 91.1%. The student has high admissions requirements, admitting students in the top 43% on standardized test results.
The school charges roughly $8,324 annual tuition to Iowa residents and $24,136 for out-of-state students. 91% of full-time undergrads receive financial aid, which averages $8,287 per student.
Notable Iowa State University Alumni
Lee Teng-hui – Former President of Tawian from 1988 – 2000
George Washington Carver – American agricultural scientist and inventor who promoted alternative crops to cotton and methods to prevent soil depletion
Jeff Hornacek – American professional basketball coach and a former player who is a coaching consultant for the Utah Jazz of the National Basketball Association (NBA)
John Garang – Sudanese politician and revolutionary leader. From 1983 to 2005, he led the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) after the Second Sudanese Civil War
Finding The Right School For Your Child
Iowa has a robust educational scene, with numerous top-rated public schools. It also has several large schools that play a critical role in educating thousands of Iowa K-12 students.
Some of the schools on this list also do well in academics and can be excellent choices for your children. As you search for the ideal learning environment for your kid, remember that the right school should meet your child’s unique needs and preferences.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©James R. Martin/Shutterstock.com.