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Challenge 5 helps school absences to drop

School absences continue to drop as a result of Challenge 5 initiative spearheaded by United Way of the Quad Cities and eight local school districts
Quad Cities, Iowa/Illinois (Feb. 27, 2019) – For the second year in a row, school absences at Quad Cities schools have dropped as a result of the “Challenge 5” initiative, a collaboration between United Way of the Quad Cities and eight local school districts in Scott and Rock Island counties and sponsored by the Arconic Foundation. 
The “Challenge 5” initiative urges students and their families to “Strive for Less than Five” absences each school year. National data shows that when a child misses an average of just two days per month throughout the school year, it results in lower grades and test scores. Attendance habits can also be linked to skills needed to be a good employee in the future.
“In our community, we saw 1,493 fewer students who had missed five days or more this year by the end of December than there were two years ago,” said United Way of the Quad Cities CEO and President Rene Gellerman. “Research shows that students with satisfactory attendance have a better chance to succeed in school, while chronically absent students are at high risk of failure and of dropping out altogether.”
By the midpoint of the 2016-17 school year, 30 percent of local public school students had already been absent five days or more. At the 2017-18 midpoint, the percentage was down to 29 percent, and 2018-19 midpoint data has revealed the percentage has dropped again to 28 percent.
“This is an encouraging downward trend,” said Dr. Jim Spelhaug, Superintendent of Pleasant Valley Community School District. “But understand that 28 percent of students missing five days or more by midyear is still high, which is why programs that focus on this are critical to students’ educational success.”
Kristin Humphries, Superintendent of the East Moline School District, notes that February and March are the months when students struggle with attendance most, due to sickness, weather and transportation problems.  
“This time of year, it is important to plan some alternate ways to get your child to school, such as a neighborhood carpool,” Humphries said. “Also, be sure that your children stay healthy by dressing warmly and washing their hands regularly.”
As part of the Challenge 5 initiative, United Way and its partner schools are raising awareness about the importance of missing less than five days of school.  Strategies include providing information to the parents about the importance of school attendance, as well as incentives for the students. Local businesses such as Chick-Fil-A and QC Pizza Company have donated coupons for the schools to give to students who improve their attendance over the course of the year.
Boosting education for every Quad Cities child takes a region-wide effort. That’s why United Way and the local school districts have already agreed to continue the Challenge 5 initiative into future school years.  
“Changing systemic issues like school attendance takes a long view, shared efforts and an engaged community,” Gellerman said. “We are fortunate to have strong partnerships with local schools. Together, we’re challenging status quo and helping create the conditions for every Quad Citizen to live their best possible life.  
For more information about Challenge 5, visit
About United Way of the Quad Cities:
United Way believes every Quad Citizen deserves the opportunity to live their best life. These opportunities happen by involving people in volunteerism, advocacy and giving. The result is a mobilized community creating the conditions that improve individual lives and strengthen the Quad Cities.  
Challenge 5 Quad Cities School Districts
Bettendorf Community School District
Davenport Community School District
East Moline School District #37
Moline/Coal Valley School District #40
North Scott Community School District
Pleasant Valley Community School District
Rock Island/Milan School District #41
United Township School District #30