Focus School Letter

William W. Estes Elementary School

A School of Leadership

275 Overlook Road

Asheville, North Carolina28803

(828) 654-1795

FAX (828) 654-1798




August 20th, 2014


During the 2011-12 school year, the United States Department of Education (USED) invited each State educational agency (SEA) to request flexibility on behalf of itself, its local educational agencies, and schools, in order to better focus on improving student learning and increasing the quality of instruction.  Last month, the North Carolina Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Flexibility Request was approved by USED.  


This opportunity will provide educators and State and local leaders with flexibility regarding specific requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) in exchange for rigorous and comprehensive State-developed plans designed to improve educational outcomes for all students, close achievement gaps, increase equity, and improve the quality of instruction.  Additionally, states are required to identify three specific categories of schools (Priority, Focus, and Reward) under methodologies approved within the Flexibility Request.


I am writing to let you know that Estes Elementary School has been identified as a Focus School by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.  Focus Schools are identified as a result of the achievement level of “in-school gaps between the highest achieving and lowest achieving subgroups” in terms of proficiency (reading/math) over a number of years or, schools with subgroup proficiency scores less than 50% over a number of years.  


Focus Schools must select interventions providing the following considerations:

·       Aligned to the school needs assessment

·       Supported through school processes (e.g., increased learning time)

·       Effective instructional methods or practices appropriate for identified subgroups

·       High quality job-embedded professional development

  • Use of data
  • School safety and discipline
  • Family and community engagement



We continue to strive for improvements in student achievement. The vision for Estes is we prepare all students to become leaders and lifelong learners.


We have set the following goals for Estes this year:

·   Increase reading proficiency of (K-3) students so that 75% are reading at or above grade level by the end of the year as measured by mClass: Reading 3D Assessments (K-3) and EOG (grade 3) AND Increase reading proficiency of 4th grade students so that 75% are at or above grade level by the end of fourth grade as measured by Benchmark assessments and EOG at end of year.

·   Increase the Math proficient of K-4 students so that 75% of the students are proficient by June 2015 as measured by grade level MOY/EOY summative DPI math assessments and EOG grades 3-4

·   Increase the proficiency of our lowest performing sub-group, students with disabilities, to 45% in read and 40% in math.

·   Continue to work with students and families with chronic tardies and absentee issues, so that all students are in school each day to maximize learning opportunities.


Our students need to experience higher achievement levels, and it will require hard work on the part of staff, students and families. Here are some strategies Estes will be implementing:

·   Daily IME block (intervention, maintenance and enrichment) for literacy

·  Weekly IME block in mathematics in each grade level to maximize individual instructional time.


Parent involvement is at the heart of our school improvement efforts. Here are some ways you can help:

·  Make sure that both you and your student are aware of academic expectations set for your student this school year.  A list of learning objectives in student-friendly language is available from your student’s teacher(s).

·  Call John Barbour at 828-654-1795 if you have questions or concerns about your student or to set up an appointment to meet with a school staff member who will be working with your student.

·   Make sure that your student is prepared and attends school each day.

·   Monitor your student’s homework.

·   Monitor and limit the amount of time your student spends watching television and playing video games.

·  Monitor the progress your student is making and attend meetings with your student’s teacher(s).

·  Volunteer.

·  Join the Parent Teacher Association.


Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Preparing our students so that they can succeed against 21st century demands isn’t easy. But it is essential. Here are some resources available to help:

·   Therapeutic Services: Family Preservation

·  Community Church Organizations: Skyland United Methodist Church and Kids for Congregations.

·   Estes Family Resource Center

·   Kwanna Club of Asheville

·   Rotary Club of Asheville

·   Eblen Charities

·   Key School of Carolina Day

·   Buncombe County Health Department

·   Graduation requirements:

·   K-12 standards in academic subjects:

·   State student achievement test results:

·   N.C. School Report Cards:


We’re excited about this school year and are working to make it a success for your student. Already, we have:

·   The Leader In Me

·   Reallocation of staffing so all grade levels have instructional assistant support

·  IME model so students who receive extra support will receive all services at one time. The IME model allows those students to not have a fragmented day.

·  Struggling Readers will receive LLI. In addition to LLI we have Wilson Phonics offered K-4 as well as Orton Gillingham K-4.


We look forward to seeing your student on August 20th, 2014.



John Barbour