A Jackson County, Minn., ninth-grader whose geometry grade suddenly declines now might get an eMail summons from the school counselor, asking him or her to stop by for a consultation. Such targeted and timely communications have become difficult in recent years as school counselors serve a growing number of students, but new technology is now making it easier for state counselors to keep track of student progress and help them plan for college, reports the Jackson County Pilot. A $735,000 federal grant awarded to Minnesota has helped more than 130 schools adopt comprehensive online counseling software to help them serve students more efficiently. The new software and training is helping counselors and teachers track student progress, communicate with students and families, and develop career, academic, and postsecondary plans for every student. The grant was one of $66 million in College Access Challenge Grants awarded to states in late 2008 for strategies to improve college access, particularly for low-income students. Nearly half of the Minnesota grant was designated to help schools purchase software and receive training from Washington, D.C.-based Naviance, which Minnesota counselors identified as the most comprehensive solution available…

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