Best public high schools in Iowa

Written by:
April 5, 2022
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Best public high schools in Iowa

As filmmaker and writer Nora Ephron said during a ’96 commencement address at Wellesley College, “Your education is a dress rehearsal for a life that is yours to lead.” If that’s the case, high school may be one of the greatest dress rehearsals of all.

It’s a place where students explore their interests, dive into extracurricular activities, finally get the freedom to choose their own classes, and prepare for college or the workplace. For many of these students and their families, public education is key: 48.1 million students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools in 2020; and there are almost 24,000 public high schools in the U.S., according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

For many anxious parents, getting their kid into the best of these public high schools is of the utmost importance. Some families even move homes to get into better school districts. However, among all of these thousands of schools, a few stand out for their academic excellence, incredible track records, and the future success of their young students.

Stacker compiled a list of the best public high schools in Iowa using rankings from Niche. Here’s how it breaks down: Niche uses eight factors for its rankings, with each factor given a different weight. A whopping 60% of the score is based on academics and grades, which is calculated using state assessment proficiency tests, SAT/ACT scores, and survey responses. From there, culture and diversity, parent and student surveys on their overall experiences, and teachers each contribute to 10% of the score. Finally, scores for each school’s clubs and activities, health and safety, resources and facilities, and sports constitute 2.5% each.

Keep reading to find out which public high schools are the best in your state.

#25. Van Meter Junior/Senior High School
- School district: Van Meter Community School District
- Enrollment: 242 (11:1 student to teacher ratio)
- Niche grade: A-

#24. George Washington High School
- School district: Cedar Rapids Community School District
- Enrollment: 1,347 (17:1 student to teacher ratio)
- Niche grade: A-

#23. Grinnell Community Senior High School
- School district: Grinnell-Newburg Community School District
- Enrollment: 522 (14:1 student to teacher ratio)
- Niche grade: A-

#22. Clear Lake High School
- School district: Clear Lake Community School District
- Enrollment: 409 (14:1 student to teacher ratio)
- Niche grade: A-

#21. South Central Calhoun High School
- School district: South Central Calhoun School District
- Enrollment: 311 (11:1 student to teacher ratio)
- Niche grade: A-

#20. MOC-Floyd Valley High School
- School district: Moc Floyd Valley Community School District
- Enrollment: 434 (13:1 student to teacher ratio)
- Niche grade: A-

#19. Williamsburg Junior/Senior High School
- School district: Williamsburg Community School District
- Enrollment: 551 (13:1 student to teacher ratio)
- Niche grade: A-

#18. Harlan High School
- School district: Harlan Community School District
- Enrollment: 492 (14:1 student to teacher ratio)
- Niche grade: A-

#17. Cedar Falls High School
- School district: Cedar Falls Community School District
- Enrollment: 1,182 (14:1 student to teacher ratio)
- Niche grade: A-

#16. Johnston Senior High School
- School district: Johnston Community School District
- Enrollment: 1,708 (21:1 student to teacher ratio)
- Niche grade: A-

#15. Le Mars High School
- School district: Le Mars Community School District
- Enrollment: 639 (16:1 student to teacher ratio)
- Niche grade: A-

#14. Pella High School
- School district: Pella Community School District
- Enrollment: 706 (15:1 student to teacher ratio)
- Niche grade: A-

#13. Linn-Mar High School
- School district: Linn-Mar Community School District
- Enrollment: 2,226 (18:1 student to teacher ratio)
- Niche grade: A

#12. Ankeny High School
- School district: Ankeny Community School District
- Enrollment: 1,284 (17:1 student to teacher ratio)
- Niche grade: A

#11. Decorah High School
- School district: Decorah Community School District
- Enrollment: 602 (16:1 student to teacher ratio)
- Niche grade: A

#10. Bettendorf High School
- School district: Bettendorf Community School District
- Enrollment: 1,549 (16:1 student to teacher ratio)
- Niche grade: A

#9. Waukee Senior High School
- School district: Waukee Community School District
- Enrollment: 2,166 (17:1 student to teacher ratio)
- Niche grade: A

#8. Iowa City High School
- School district: Iowa City Community School District
- Enrollment: 1,566 (17:1 student to teacher ratio)
- Niche grade: A

#7. John F. Kennedy High School
- School district: Cedar Rapids Community School District
- Enrollment: 1,790 (19:1 student to teacher ratio)
- Niche grade: A

#6. Valley High School
- School district: West Des Moines Community School District
- Enrollment: 2,013 (17:1 student to teacher ratio)
- Niche grade: A

#5. Ankeny Centennial High School
- School district: Ankeny Community School District
- Enrollment: 1,307 (18:1 student to teacher ratio)
- Niche grade: A

#4. Gilbert High School
- School district: Gilbert Community School District
- Enrollment: 496 (15:1 student to teacher ratio)
- Niche grade: A

#3. Ames High School
- School district: Ames Community School District
- Enrollment: 1,383 (17:1 student to teacher ratio)
- Niche grade: A

#2. West Senior High School
- School district: Iowa City Community School District
- Enrollment: 1,460 (18:1 student to teacher ratio)
- Niche grade: A+

#1. Pleasant Valley High School
- School district: Pleasant Valley Community School District
- Enrollment: 1,461 (18:1 student to teacher ratio)
- Niche grade: A+

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