Lists that rank the top anything are quite subjective, right? Metrics... numbers... stats... these all represent the past or a trend. Not that there isn't merit to these studies, but personal experiences will always vary.

Especially when it comes to education. That said, there are two new lists out that claim to have the top 10 public schools in the state of Iowa. Which is more accurate? Well, let's go over each list, and the metrics used to decide where each school landed.

List One: Neighborhood Scout

The first list is from the website Neighborhood Scout which has many breakdowns for all 50 states. Schools are, obviously, one. Crime and real estate are also available.

Before we see the top 10 public schools, the metrics they used are state test scores in:

  • Reading/English Language Arts Tests
  • Math Tests

They also break down class sizes for the state overall, but not by district nor individual school.


Here are their top 10 public schools in Iowa according to Neighborhood Scout:

  1. Grundy Center High School (Grundy Center)
  2. Gilbert Middle School (Gilbert)
  3. Hopewell Elementary School (Bettendorf)
  4. Northeast Elementary School (Goose Lake)
  5. Orange City Elementary School (Orange City)
  6. Pleasant View Elementary School (Bettendorf)
  7. Bess Streeter Aldrich Elementary School (Cedar Falls)
  8. North Polk Middle School (Alleman)
  9. Solon High School (Solon)
  10. Decorah High School (Decorah)
Grundy Center High School via Google
Grundy Center High School via Google

Now the next top 10 public schools are from Niche. They do a list annually and their 2022 list is here.

List Two: Niche

The website Niche appears to really just focus on schools, and so a top 10 list should hold merit. They do an annual list specifically for school districts and schools. I'm using the results of the school study for the top 10 public schools in Iowa.

As for the metrics the site Niche uses? Here's what they say:

The Best School Districts ranking is based on rigorous analysis of academic and student life data from the U.S. Department of Education along with test scores, college data, and ratings collected from millions of Niche users

Here are the top 10 according to Niche:

  1. Hopewell Elementary School (Bettendorf)
  2. Pleasant View Elementary School (Bettendorf)
  3. Pleasant Valley High School (Bettendorf)
  4. West Senior High School (Iowa City)
  5. Pleasant Valley Junior High School (Le Claire)
  6. Gilbert Intermediate School (Gilbert)
  7. Orange City Elementary School (Orange City)
  8. Ames High School (Ames)
  9. Northeast Elementary School (Ankeny)
  10. Gilbert High School (Gilbert)
Hopewell Elementary School via Google
Hopewell Elementary School via Google

Bettendorf is well represented in the Niche study, while the Neighborhood Scout report seems to shy away from repeating schools within the same district.

So what do you think of these lists? Do you think there can really be one "best" school? I guess it's all subjective.

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