The main feature of an elementary school is that it provides education and life skills for children in grades three through five, though many also offer kindergarten levels. Beyond this basic premise, schools vary widely, though high-performing elementary schools share some common features.
Common features of the best-performing elementary schools, as judged by student scores and achievements, include a focus on skills and experiences outside of the academic curriculum, extensive parental involvement and dedicated, motivated teaching staff led by a skilled principal. These schools tend to focus on individual personal development rather than attempting solely to raise overall class test scores. Access to sufficient physical space for PE lessons and resources to provide additional skills, such as music, dance, drama, IT or cooking lessons, are also features of the highly rated schools.
Elementary school goals of student development and academic success are achieved in many different ways, depending on the individual school. Some schools feature interactive lessons and teacher-led explorations of topics, while others let students build their own portfolio of interests with the help of their teachers and parents. The common feature in these schemes is that students are actively encouraged to participate, rather than learning solely from information given by the teacher.