Second-smartest state in America: Iowa

Iowa places third nationally in two of our criteria: the number of young people attending college (93.5%) and average SAT math scores (606 -- tying Minnesota, although just 3% of graduating Iowa students took the test).

Some 90.6% of Hawkeye State adults also have high school degrees. As noted, that ties Utah for the sixth-best rate nationwide. (There are no figures available for how many Iowa teens watch lots of TV.)

Martinez-Aleman taught at Iowa's Grinnell College for seven years and saw firsthand how strongly the state supports public schools.

"Iowa has a very long history of being very progressive regarding K-12 education," she says.

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