A concerted effort by local school districts and the United Way boosted attendance during the past year, but not by much. The number of children who missed 9 or more days of school dropped by two-tenths of one per cent, to 39.2 per cent.
Missing 9 days is just one day per month. But United Way chief operating officer Karrie Webb says research shows missing this much school results in lower grades and lower test scores.
"We're extremely happy we saw a decrease in the number of absences, but we know this won't be something that changes overnight. And it 's something we're committed to for the next several years until we start to see the shift that we want.
The program, including 7 school districts in the Quad Cities area, is called Challenge 5 - meaning the goal is to reduce absences to fewer than 5 per year.
Webb says a kickoff for the new school year will be held in August.
"We're looking for different groups to get involved with us, to bring awareness and get involved with kids - whether that's celebrating that they've got great attendance or maybe mentoring those who aren't getting great attenedance."
Suggestions for parents include: setting a regular bed time, keeping kids home only when they are truly sick, and having alternative ways to get children to school.