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updated: 8/11/2014 9:06 PM

U-46 launches campaign to improve attendance

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Elgin Area School District U-46 has launched a campaign to improve student attendance rates.

Student attendance for the 2013-14 school year was at 94.3 percent. On average, 1,949 students are missing from district classrooms each day, officials said.

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Officials could not identify which schools had the highest truancy rate or break down excused versus unexcused absences.

The "I'm Here! ¡Aquí estoy!" messaging campaign aims to raise awareness about the importance of staying in school. The goal is to increase the district's attendance rate to 98 percent, officials said.

"We are working collaboratively with parents, staff and community members to reinforce the importance of showing up to make sure that (students) are on track to graduate," district spokesman Patrick Mogge said.

"Missing just two school days a month makes your child more likely to drop out," Mogge said, quoting a study.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, for every school day missed, it takes two or more days for a student to catch up.

"It's easy to underestimate the significant impact missing a few days of school can have on a student's overall performance," Superintendent José Torres said. "Poor attendance is one of the major contributing factors to learning losses like poor reading skills or high school dropout rates."

U-46 families will receive Attendance Toolkits with information about excused and unexcused absences and tips for getting students to school on time each day. The district also is encouraging community members to spread the word by displaying campaign posters and donating to the incentive program.

Students and parents could earn prizes for demonstrating perfect or improved attendance.

"Our attendance campaign will get students excited about working toward perfect attendance," Torres said. "U-46 is committed to doing everything possible to help students succeed and that includes getting students to school each day."

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