Iowa - American EducationThe 29th state admitted to the Union, in 1846. Its statewide public school system had been established 12 years earlier when Iowa was still a part of the Wisconsin Territory. Iowa has more than 1,500 public schools for fewer than 490,000 elementary and secondary school students, of whom 10.5% are minority students and 6% live in poverty. The academic quality of the state’s public schools ranks well above average for the nation, as measured by student proficiency in reading, mathematics and science. Indeed, eighth graders rank 12th in the nation in reading proficiency and 10th in math proficiency. For reasons that were unclear, however, fourth graders lagged behind at about 20th in the nation in both disciplines. The state has three public and 41 private four-year institutions of higher education, with a total enrollment of about 130,000. There are 16 public and three private two-year colleges, with a total enrollment of about 75,000 students. Graduation rates of 63% at four-year colleges are well above the national average.