The Best School Districts in Dubuque, Iowa

The Best School Districts in Dubuque, Iowa


When it comes to education, parents always want to find the school that best fits the needs of their children. This can be a very daunting task since there are so many different school districts. They often question, which school do I choose? We are here to help you answer that question if you have recently moved to Dubuque, Iowa. Be sure to also check out our guide on the best neighborhoods in Dubuque, Iowa if you need some helpful tips on buying or renting a home near the school district you chose.

There are four main school districts in Dubuque, Iowa. Two of them are public and the other two are private. All of these schools have their unique features and we are here to help you decide which features are most important to you.

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What to Look for in a School District

When looking for a school district to send your child to, the first thing you want to ask yourself is, what am I looking for in that district? Now this answer can vary from person to person, but the essentials to look for are the location, academic standings, and if they have any unique features. These three things will tell you if the district is one your child can commute to and if it will help prepare them for life academically and socially. 

Another main thing to consider is if you want to send your kid to a public or private school. This can easily help you narrow down your options right away. In Dubuque, Iowa they have two districts of each kind so by narrowing that down you have already narrowed your choices to two!

Dubuque Community School District

The Dubuque Community School District was founded in 1886 and has over 10,000 students enrolled in its schools. They are the 7th largest school district in Iowa. 


Dubuque Community School District has its schools in the eastern part of Dubuque County. In total, they have nineteen different schools within the district. Twelve Elementary schools, three middle schools, two high schools, one junior/senior online school, and one alternative learning center.

Out of these nineteen different schools, eighteen of them are in-person learning. This means the students go to the school building to learn face-to-face with a teacher. The one virtual school is Dubuque Online Middle/High School. This school does not have a set location since the students are taught via their computers/tablets. 

If you are located near the Mississippi River in Dubuque, or anywhere in the heart of the city, this is going to be a good school district for your location.


When it comes to academics the school district has over 1,800 employees, counting teachers, paraprofessionals, coaches, and general staff. The district has an average student-to-teacher ratio of 13 to 1. 

When it comes to the district’s overall state testing scores they received a math proficiency of 70% and a reading proficiency of 66%. Their overall graduation rate is 88% which is very close to the state’s average. 

In order to graduate, the school districts require that their students have taken and passed a total of 46 credits. A credit is considered taking and passing a class for one semester (roughly 90 days). The district requires that you take a certain amount of core classes, but they offer a variety of different course options. These options include fourteen different Advanced Placement (AP) courses. The school also has a weighted GPA, which allows kids who take AP classes to have the chance to receive a GPA above 4.0.

Unique Feature

The school district has a program called “Anytime, Anywhere Learning,” better known as AAL. This program is meant to combine the students’ learning curriculum with technology since it is such a big part of the 21st century. Part of this program means that starting in 9th grade, students are given a school-issued tech book that they can use in school and at home. 

Western Dubuque Community School District

The Western Dubuque Community School District was founded in 1886 and has a total of over 6,500 students enrolled in its schools. They are considered the largest school district in Iowa for how much area they cover.

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Western Dubuque Community School District is based in Farley, Iowa, which is in the western part of Dubuque County. They are a rural public school district and have a total of eight different schools. This includes five Elementary schools, one middle school, one high school, and one junior/senior high school. 

The schools in this district are in small towns on the outskirts of Dubuque, Iowa. This location is perfect for people who live on the outskirts of Dubuque, or who live in one of the surrounding downs. 


This school district in Dubuque, Iowa has a total of 250 teachers. This makes their students to teacher ratio 15 to 1. 

When it comes to state testing scores, the district received an overall math proficiency of 83% and an overall reading proficiency of 78%. This is well above Iowa’s state average of 64% in math and 68% in reading. They also have a graduation rate of 99%, which is well above the state average rate.  

To graduate from the school district, students need to meet certain credit requirements. They need a total of 32 credits in required classes and a total of 26 credits in elected credits. In addition, high school students have the opportunity to take college-level classes in two different ways. They can do this by taking AP classes or by attending classes at Northeast Iowa Community College or Kirkwood.

Unique Feature

The school district has a very small-town community vibe, and because of that, they have a very big volunteer program within their schools. All of their schools encourage parents and other community members to sign up to volunteer within the school buildings. This could mean chaperoning a school trip or helping out in the classroom with students who need more one-on-one time. All of these volunteers have a background check done and are approved by the Principal and school board.

Holy Family Catholic School District

Holy Family Catholic School District is a private catholic school district in Dubuque, Iowa. They have a little over 1,800 students enrolled throughout their district.


The school district is right near the middle of Dubuque, Iowa. They have a total of five schools within the district. This includes two elementary schools, one middle school, one high school, and one Spanish immersion school. 

The immersion, middle, and high schools are all located within one big building. The two elementary schools are located in two separate buildings that are less than 10 minutes away from the main building.

This school district is convenient for families who live in the heart of Dubuque and want to send their kids to a private catholic school.


The school district has a student-to-staff ratio of 12 to 1, giving students a lot of one-on-one time with their teachers.

When it comes to academics, the school district has an 86% reading proficiency and an 82% math proficiency for state testing. Both of these scores are above the state average by quite a large amount. They also have a graduation rate of 100%. 

The high school ACT score average is a composite score of 19 to 20, which is slightly below the Iowa state average. Their high school also offers a lot of AP or college credit courses, and on average each student graduates with thirteen college credits.

Unique Feature

One of the schools within this district is a Spanish immersion school. This school is available for grades preschool through fifth grade. This means that the students enrolled there will go through the normal curriculum but with the instructions in Spanish. This allows the students to fully immerse themselves in the language, which is one of the most effective ways for young minds to learn a new language. 

Tri-State Christian School District

Tri-State Christian School District is a private Christian school district that is in Dubuque, Iowa. They have a little over 100 students in the district.


The school district is located on the western outskirts of Dubuque, Iowa. They have one school building that is made up of elementary, middle, and high school students. 

This district is in a good location for people who live in or on the outskirts of Dubuque, and who want to send their kids to a private Christian school.


This school district in Dubuque, Iowa has a student-to-staff ratio of 7 to 1. They pride themselves in having small class sizes, which gives the teachers more time to individually help each student. 

The school district has an average ACT score of 25, which is higher than the Iowa state average. The high school has a very structured course schedule that the students follow, and they start each day with a religious class. They then spend the rest of the afternoon in core classes such as math, science, English, and social studies.

Unique Feature

The Tri-State Christian School District provides its older students with spiritual retreats once a year. These retreats take place to get the kids out of the classroom for a while and allow them to better get to know their classmates. These retreats often involve some Bible study, where the students can take some time to reflect on the word of God. They also often involve some fun events and games for the students to partake in. This helps them to get a break from learning, while still getting to know each other and connecting themselves with their religion.


Knowing where to send your kids to school will always be a difficult decision to make as a parent. The key is to know what you are looking for when it comes to what school district you want to send your children to.

Do you think the state testing scores are important or do you think religious affiliation is a big factor? Questions like this will allow you to narrow down your search. No matter what you decide, do your research and trust yourself to make the right choice for your family.

This post gave you some key information about the best school districts in Dubuque, Iowa. All of these schools are amazing for different reasons. It honestly comes down to what is best for your family’s location, and what you believe is best for your child’s future when it comes to academics and the other features each district has to offer.

Jessica is a students at the University of Northern Iowa. She is majoring in English Education with a creative writing minor. In her free time she loves to read books of every genre, write short stories, and spend time with friends. In the future she hopes to share her love for reading and writing with her future students.