Skip to content

Best schools in Des Moines Iowa

Last Updated on November 12, 2022 by chioma

Des Moines, Iowa is a great place to live. It’s got a lot of things going for it: the weather is amazing, it’s close enough to Chicago and Omaha to get you out of town on weekends if you want to, but far enough away that you can still have privacy. And hey, if you’re looking for somewhere to raise a family, Des Moines has some of the best schools in the entire state! Des Moines Public Schools rank #1 in the state with an A+ rating from They’ve got six high schools (Central, Southeast, Roosevelt, North High School, Valley High School and Lincoln) which all offer great AP classes and college prep opportunities. There are also plenty of middle schools and elementary schools with great reputations—from Hoover Elementary School to Polk Elementary School—so there’s no reason why your child shouldn’t get a good education here.

You may find it hard to access the right information on the internet, so we are here to help you in the following article, providing the best and updated information on Best schools in Des Moines Iowa. Read on to learn more. We at collegelearners have all the information that you need about Best schools in Des Moines Iowa.

Best schools in Des Moines Iowa

Best Des Moines Schools by Neighborhood

  1. Brook Run
  2. Meredith
  3. Berwick
  4. Waveland Park North
  5. Waveland Woods / Waveland Park
  6. Waterbury / Ingersoll Park
  7. Linden Heights / Westwood
  8. Merle Hay South
  9. Saylorville
  10. Millman

Public School Test Scores (No Child Left Behind)

Schools in this District

Brody Middle School
2501 Park Ave
Des Moines, IA, 50321
Brubaker Elementary School
2900 E 42nd Street
Des Moines, IA, 50317
Callanan Middle School
3010 Center Street
Des Moines, IA, 50312
Capitol View Elementary School
320 E. 16th
Des Moines, IA, 50316
Carver Elementary School
705 E University Ave
Des Moines, IA, 50316
Cattell Elementary School
3101 E 12th St
Des Moines, IA, 50316
Cowles Elementary School
6401 College Ave
Des Moines, IA, 50324
Downtown School
1800 Grand Avenue
Des Moines, IA, 50309
East High School
815 E 13th St
Des Moines, IA, 50316
Edmunds Fine Arts Academy School
950 15th Street
Des Moines, IA, 50314

School District Enrollment by Group

Ethnic/racial GroupsThis DistrictThis State
White (non-hispanic)38.0%77.3%
Asian Or Pacific Islander8.8%2.7%
American Indian Or Native Of Alaska0.6%0.8%
Economic GroupsThis DistrictThis State

Educational Expenditures

For This DistrictPer StudentTotal% Of Total
Instructional Expenditures$7,984$264,805,32852.5%
Support Expenditures
General Administration$319$10,580,2732.1%
School Administration$676$22,420,8924.4%
Total Support$4,791$158,903,09731.5%
Non-instructional Expenditures$2,431$80,628,97716.0%
Total Expenditures$15,206$504,337,402100.0%
For The StatePer StudentTotal% Of Total
Instructional Expenditures$7,224$3,660,926,53151.1%
Support Expenditures
General Administration$281$142,425,5562.0%
School Administration$641$325,034,7204.5%
Total Support$3,719$1,884,639,81026.3%
Non-instructional Expenditures$3,194$1,618,462,28922.6%
Total Expenditures$14,138$7,164,055,866100.0%
For The NationPer StudentTotal% Of Total
Instructional Expenditures$7,549$372,153,103,14349.7%
Support Expenditures
General Administration$258$12,720,931,8421.7%
School Administration$730$35,978,592,5124.8%
Total Support$4,553$224,451,138,46130.0%
Non-instructional Expenditures$3,074$151,519,765,18320.3%
Total Expenditures$15,176$748,124,887,521100.0%

Best schools in Des Moines

  • Delaware Elementary
  • Downtown School
  • Merrill Middle School
  • Jefferson Elementary School
  • Perkins Elementary School
  • Windsor Elementary
  • Hanawalt Elementary
  • Greenwood Elementary School
  • Brody Middle School
  • Woodside Middle School

Popular Neighborhoods in Des Moines

  • Waterbury / Ingersoll Park
  • Linden Heights / Westwood
  • Salisbury Oaks
  • Waveland Woods / Waveland Park
  • Waveland Park North
  • Downtown Des Moines
  • Beaverdale
  • Sherman Hill / Woodland Heights
  • East Village
  • Bloomfield Allen


Iowa is quite possibly the top Midwestern state in terms of public education. In 2019, the state’s high school graduation rate hit an all-time high of 91.4%, which is over six points higher than the national rate. Unsurprisingly, the Hawkeye State’s five best school districts perform remarkably well in all areas. 

Johnston Community School District is the best public school system in Iowa. Comprising five elementary schools, two middle schools, a high school, and a number of other facilities, JCSD is one of the largest districts in the state and has an enrollment of around 7,400 students. Despite its size, JCSD boasts a long tradition of academic excellence, boasting a 97% graduation rate and Math and RLA proficiency scores of 88% and 86%, respectively. 

Earning the #2 spot is Southeast Polk Community School District, serving an enrollment of 7,000 students in the Des Moines Metro area. The district’s 98% graduation rate is tied for the best in the state. 

Linn-Mar Community School District is the 3rd best in Iowa. Students at Linn-Mar’s seven elementary schools, two middle schools and one high school all perform above state and national levels in assessment tests, and seven became National Merit Scholar Semifinalists in 2018. 

#4 Ames Community School District is perhaps the most decorated public school district in Iowa state history. Throughout its history, Ames High School has produced 15 Presidential scholars, 23 straight State Science Olympiad Championships, and more athletic state championships than any other school in the state. 

Rounding out the list is Cedar Falls Schools, a large district comprising seven elementary schools, two junior high schools, and one high school. Every school in the district is among the highest-performing in the state, academically, and CFS was recognized by the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council for advancing STEM education throughout the state. 

Top School Districts in Iowa, 2020

RankSchool DistrictCity
1Johnston Comm School DistrictJohnston
2Southeast Polk Comm School DistrictPleasant Hill
3Linn-Mar Comm School DistrictMarion
4Ames Comm School DistrictAmes
5Cedar Falls Comm School DistrictCedar Falls
6Bettendorf Comm School DistrictBettendorf
7Urbandale Comm School DistrictUrbandale
8Indianola Comm School DistrictIndianola
9Dallas Center-Grimes Comm School DistrictDallas Center
10Western Dubuque Comm School DistrictFarley
11College Comm School DistrictCedar Rapids
12Norwalk Comm School DistrictNorwalk
13Pella Comm School DistrictPella
14Glenwood Comm School DistrictGlenwood
15Winterset Comm School DistrictWinterset
16Le Mars Comm School DistrictLe Mars
17Decorah Community School DistrictDecorah
18North Scott Comm School DistrictEldridge
19Solon Comm School DistrictSolon
20Ballard Comm School DistrictHuxley
21Moc-Floyd Valley Comm School DistrictOrange City
22Clinton Comm School DistrictClinton
23Adel Desoto Minburn Comm School DistrictAdel
24Allamakee Comm School DistrictWaukon
25Lewis Central Comm School DistrictCouncil Bluffs
26Harlan Comm School DistrictHarlan
27Sergeant Bluff-Luton Comm School DistrictSergeant Bluff
28Independence Comm School DistrictIndependence
29Maquoketa Valley Comm School DistrictDelhi
30Northeast Comm School DistrictGoose Lake
31Treynor Comm School DistrictTreynor
32Carroll Comm School DistrictCarroll
33Williamsburg Comm School DistrictWilliamsburg
34Center Point-Urbana Comm School DistrictCenter Point
35Boone Comm School DistrictBoone
36West Delaware County Comm School DistrictManchester
37North Linn Comm School DistrictTroy Mills
38Underwood Comm School DistrictUnderwood
39Knoxville Comm School DistrictKnoxville
40Union Comm School DistrictLa Porte City
41North Fayette Valley Comm School DistrictWest Union
42Humboldt Comm School DistrictDakota City
43Marshalltown Comm School DistrictMarshalltown
44Albia Comm School DistrictAlbia
45Bondurant-Farrar Comm School DistrictBondurant
46Ottumwa Comm School DistrictOttumwa
47South Central Calhoun Comm School DistrictRockwell City
48St Ansgar Comm School DistrictSt Ansgar
49Hinton Comm School DistrictHinton
50Carlisle Comm School DistrictCarlisle


The following variables contributed to the ranking: number of students (K-12), graduation rate, school funding per student, student to teacher ratio, percent of students scoring above proficient in standardized state Math test, percent of students scoring above proficient in standardized state Reading and Language test. Data from a total of 10,247 public school districts were used to compute a score for each school district. The following states were omitted due to lack of sufficient data: Hawaii, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Utah, and Virginia. Note that high schools in some states have their own independent districts.