U.S. News and World Report names Arizona's top elementary school

U.S. News and World Report just came out with its list of the top elementary schools in the state of Arizona.

They are public or charter schools. So, Fox 10 went out to the number one school on the list to find out what makes the school stand out.

Inside Knox Gifted Academy in Chandler, it is hard to find students sitting still.

About 100 5th-grade students have just read a novel.  

"Now, they're focusing on the theme of the novel and creating a 3D structure with certain criteria and constraints that show symbolism in the form of the theme," teacher Laura Yockey said.

Yockey says student engagement is one of the many reasons the school that is part of the Chandler Unified School District is number one in the state.

"This is more inspiring to me than a lecture or a worksheet. I think this is a cool way to give them leadership and ownership of their own learning," Yockey said.

In Tara Menghini’s technology class, 4th-grade students are using a virtual reality headset to learn.

"They've been to the Great Wall of China, they've been to the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower," Menghini said.

Principal Kristy Braaksma says, "It’s very exciting to be the number one ranked school in Arizona. We work very hard every day, day in and day out for our kids. It’s a very exciting honor and it’s great to be recognized for our hard work."

For kids to get into the pre-K through 6th grade public school, first they have to be identified as gifted through testing.

"We know that every child has gifts and talents, but to be a gifted child, it means that your brain develops differently," Braaksma said. "And so different parts of that brain develop at different rates, they need education in a different way."

"We work really hard here, the kids work really hard, so it’s really cool to see that their hard work is paying off," Yockey said.

Weinberg Gifted Academy, also in the Chandler Unified District, came in second. Mesa Academy for Advanced Studies came in third. Cherokee Elementary in the Scottsdale Unified School District came in fourth and Masada Charter School in Colorado City came in 5th.

To see the entire U.S. News and World Report Top 10 and learn more about the criteria, go here: https://www.usnews.com/education/k12/elementary-schools/arizona