Polk County Health Department


Content updated on 07/11/17


When children are healthy, they are more successful in school and develop better relationships with their peers. Fourth grade reading proficiency is a benchmark for a child’s academic achievement. Children who show appropriate reading ability are more likely to succeed in other areas at school, like math and science. Reading ability can predict the likelihood of graduating high school.

In Polk County, fourth grade reading proficiency levels dropped in 2011 among all races/ethnicity, and have been slowly improving since. However, African-American (51.8%) and Hispanic (56.1%) have been consistently showing lower reading proficiency scores than their Asian (69.7 %) and white, non-Hispanic (82.7%) counterparts.


The rate of high school graduates in Polk County has risen from 87.8% in 2010 to 89.4% in 2014. However, these percentages are below the State, which reported a 90.4% graduation rate in 2014.

Overall, in Polk County there is an increasing rate of continuing education past high school. Between 2011 – 2015, it was estimated that 35.8% of residents had either a college or graduate degree. Between genders, it was found that education attainment was nearly equal across all levels. 

Education Attainment by Gender 2011-2015 (Source: US Census Bureau American Community Survey 5-Year Data 2011-2015)

  Men Women
Less than High School 8.3% 8.1%
High school degree 25.5% 25.1%
Some college or associate degree 30.3% 31.1%
College or post graduate degree 35.9% 35.7%


No High School Diploma in Polk County by Census Tract (Source: US Census Bureau ACS 2011-2015).

Contact Us

Phone: (515)-286-3798
Fax: (515)-286-2033
Toll free: 866-209-1300

Address: 1907, Carpenter Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50314