Glad we're using Alma
Unlike other SIS's, Alma actually looks and feels like it was made in the 2010's. The system is solid, and has essentially every feature a smaller school like ours would want (and many more that we don't need to use). The gradebook is excellent, and it's easy to transfer classes and students from year-to-year. Their customer service has been great (we accidentally deleted multiple report cards in different places the other day and they quickly and helpfully solved our issue by restoring to a backup), and they are continually adding features and improving the platform. And the cost has been at least 50% less than quotes we were getting from major competitors. Many reasons to switch to Alma.
The latest transcripts update was helpful - there are still a couple of features we'd like on the transcripts front, but that's mostly because our school has a unique curriculum. This is totally just a personal preference, but I'd also like to be able to search for classes in the search feature in addition to contacts.
Response from Alma
What incredible feedback, James! Thank you so much and we look forward building on all of your school's successes!
ALMA is what we were looking for....
This program has helped our students, staff, and parents utilize one student management system and use it to it's fullest potential. Each people group is able to pull from the system the vital information they need; some need more than others and the program has addressed all levels of information and all levels of user. That was important to us as we needed something that our staff could use to keep track of vital demographics, our teachers could use to track student grades and assignments and yet parents and students could log on and keep track of grades, test assessments and missing assignments. It meets the needs of every level.
This product is very easy to use, in real time and easy to understand. Novel users can open up this SIS program and navigate in order to find the information they are looking for.
We were one of the first public schools to sign on with ALMA, therefore we have evolved with the company. There have been some growing pains as we have evolved. The tech support teams have been gracious and very helpful in keeping us up to speed and rolling.
Used for an elementary, has great services, could be improved.
I LOVE the customer service. They are always willing to work with us and help us adapt the program to what we need. I love the many different reporting features and how they each have a unique description that helps me find exactly what I need. I also like that I can star the reports I frequently use. I like that I am able to easily fill in grades in the "gradebook" tab, as well as having the opportunity to quickly report final grades at the end of the term. I am also happy with the ease in resetting a password for a user who has forgotten theirs as well as the quick ability to change a username. I appreciate that many users can have access to the same information (meaning a student and both of their parents can have their own accounts but access the same information on their child). I think overall I am mostly impressed with Alma's support team, how quickly and professionally they respond, how they will not let me leave the conversation until they are satisfied that all of my questions have been answered and my concerns resolved, and I love that they are constantly updating, making the website better, and then sending out an email with all of the updates and detailed instructions on how to utilize them.
I feel the website could be slightly more user friendly. There are often times it takes longer than I would like to access the information that I need (a lot of clicking through redundant tabs and not a lot of short cuts). I also wish it was easier for parents to understand the website. I don't like that there is no easy way for a parent to access a student's missing work, instead having to look through each class and assignment to see what has and has not been turned in. I also wish there was a way for us, as administrators and teachers, to see exactly what the parents see. It is hard to give advice and support to a parent when their screen looks different from mine; and I often don't know if they can see everything that I can, like all of the notes and assignment descriptions and what not. Otherwise, I am mostly happy with Alma.
A solid Student SIS
They are a fantastic company with a bright future ahead of them. I'm happy to support them, enjoy using their product, and appreciate their customer service.
The main selling point from Alma was the ease of use. Out of all of the systems I've demoed and tried, it was easily the easiest to log in, poke around, and figure out how to do what I needed to do with minimal training.
The second selling point is their customer service. Absolutely top notch. Their people are friendly, very responsive, and (most importantly) humans. I enjoy talking to them! I can usually get a response from a rep within minutes and even our teachers are welcome to message them with questions.
The third selling point is that they are new system with a considerably active development cycle. We knew, going into it, that they wouldn't be as fully fleshed out as competitors like PowerSchool. That also means that it's easier for newer and fresher ideas to be implemented. It's not built on some old archaic database. Many of the features they do have that I use regularly such as the Report Card Builder and the Spreadsheet Data Editor/Report builder are very well done. We regularly get emails about new features being added and they listen to their customers when new features are requested. They've given us a lot of new toys since we first signed on with them.
The final selling point is narwhals.
Probably the biggest issue that I face regularly is that their district level stuff isn't as fleshed out as I would like it to be. Many of the cool features that are available at each of the schools I manage can't be done in the district portion, aggregating all data and whatnot. I've been told they are working on that stuff though!
We have always had great success with Alma. They are supportive, friendly, and responsive.
The customer service reps are always kind and supportive. They are quick to respond and ready to help out. They even change their software based on suggestions.
There is nothing that I find to be the least liked about this software. They are always willing to help and update.
I Love Alma
My overall experience has been great. As I was the one pressured to find a SIS software program for our organization, I am glad that I decided to go with Alma. I didn't know what the outcome would be but I am happy in the decision that I made.
It is very user friendly. It has everything that our school needs. It is also syncs data with other programs we use within our school.
There is nothing I least like about the software. If there is a change I would like to see made, all I have to do is contact customer care and they will reach out to their engineers to see if its possible.
Great value, excellent support
Our biggest benefit with Alma in the last two years was when they implemented their online enrollment process. At the time, we were considering moving from Alma to PowerSchool to gain this function as we were still doing paper application and enrollment. PowerSchool was quoting $20,000 to provide this, and that was a discounted price! Alma's online enrollment was brand new, but I spent a month going through their Study Guide to create our first process. The online support was a huge help! At the end of that 30 days, I was able to confidently recommend to our Head of School that we say "no" to PowerSchool and stick with Alma. This feature and many others have only improved since then. We appreciate that Alma charges us less and lets us create this and other processes for ourself.
The support for Alma is exceptional! As I am learning to use different features the Help guides & live support answer all my needs in a timely manner. I brag on the Alma support to other companies who are not as helpful. I also appreciate how Alma listens to my suggestions for improvements. In the almost two years I have used the product, I have seen many of the features I have asked for being implemented. I get a regular email (weekly or bi monthly) that updates me on new features and almost every time, there is something there that I have been wanting. You've got to love a company that listens to and responds to its customers.
Alma has added many features that I didn't even know I wanted - thank you! The only feature they do not yet have is a way to accept and charge for payments. We can track financial info on Alma, but cannot have it accept funds. That would be a huge thing for us because we could eliminate using a separate program for this feature - we actually use two: MySchool and TADS.
Great SIS For Small Schools
Alma is the most user-friendly SIS I've ever used. It's intuitive for admin, teachers, students, and families. The simplicity of it makes it very easy to navigate. Still, it's functionality is complete, especially for a small school. I have experience with some of the larger, more well-known systems, and they always felt clunky and hard to figure out if you didn't have a deep tech background. Amplify is easy to use out of the box.
My biggest complaint is that I wish the student ID was on every report available. I sometimes have to do a v-lookup to populate this info, which is an extra step. Also, I love that their support staff is readily available on chat. They sometimes even reply at night and on weekends! Sometimes though, I wish I could pick up the phone and call them for a more complicated question.
A Great SIS - and Getting Better
Our school has tried several different solutions for grading and record keeping, and Alma is by far the best we have encountered. We tried Power School (a user-unfriendly dinosaur) and internally developed software (effective but too labor-intensive and time consuming to develop and maintain), and Alma is far superior to both. I really cannot recommend Alma highly enough.
The best thing abour Alma is its ease of use. In addition, it has one of the most professional and responsive customer support departments I have ever encountered in any product or industry.
It does not yet have all of the functionality that we would like, particularly in the area of recording curriculum, but since we adopted it three years ago they have regulerly added new features and improved the functionality of what was already there. I really do believe that in short order they will address curriculum within the program, and at that point every major use we have for an SIS would be covered.
A solid program with good support that currently lacks a few features.
My overall experience with Alma has been very positive. I prefer this program to any other SIS that I have used.
Alma is very easy to use, even for those that are not particularly proficient with technology. It's functionality is improved from other SIS programs I have used in the past (Progressbook and Power School). As an administrator, I have far more control to make changes and adjustments that fit my staff and students. The customer support team is also very helpful and responsive.
There are some features that are missing. We have requested GPA-based grade calculation and some additions to transcripts that have not yet been implemented. However, several other features that we have requested have been implemented over the past two years.
A flexible and responsive product. Unbelievably effective and efficient.
We have reduced our printing costs, improved communication with parents, and successfully submitted our PIMS state reports. Communication with Alma has been great! The online resources and chat feature are very effective. Chat is answered within 10 minutes, often in less time. They have been responsive to our needs. Feedback from the teachers about their use of Alma has been very positive.
The user interface is very intuitive. Everything is where one would expect it to be within the program. Migration to Alma from our previous SIS was so straight forward and seamless that I was not sure the SIS was going to be ready on schedule. It was ready on schedule and very few issues have been encountered.
Issuing digital report cards is very easy and our parents love it. We also communicate with our parents on a regular basis by using the email feature in Alma. Parents also have expressed satisfaction with the parent portal for checking their student's grades. Teachers find it very easy to use the gradebook.
Any concerns/needs we have expressed to Alma have resulted in instant inquiry and potential solutions.
GETALMA for International Schools
I’m very satisfied with the overall performance of GetAlma, and I highly recommend it!
1) The features that where the most impactful:
-Attendance and Report Cards
2.) Is the product easy to use?
-The learning curve was a little steep in the beginning, but because of fantastic customer support, all concerns were quickly answered and solutions were given/suggested that solved the problems.
3.) Was the integration with your existing business processes easy?
-Teachers found it easy to use overall.
1.) Are there features you feel are missing or could be improved?
a.) Finer granular control over the lay-outing of the templates.
b.) Ability to add drop-down dates in some places.
c.) Manual inputting of each teacher’s class schedules for all grade levels is tedious. Alma should have a built-in feature of uploading .CSV files for creating and updating class schedules instead of using an optional 3rd party service.
d.) The sandboxed sites for testing the look and feel of creating classes and report cards are geared for US school systems and not for international school systems, and which I did not find very useful.
e.) There should be a feature during the initial set-up of the school year to allow certain weekends that can be ticked-off as part of the school year.
2.) Are there aspects of the product that are difficult to use?
-ALMA Start (for creating online school enrollment forms, online parent info access, etc.) is a little complicated to learn and implement without a sandboxed testing environment when the school year has already started.
Shifting to Alma has positioned us well as we transition our district to competency based learning.
Alma has a modern interface that is intuitive for our users with all of the information they need right at their fingertips, or one screen away. The student/parent portal is informative and is enabling us to move toward a more paperless registration process. Our teachers love the communication tools built into their grade book that enable them to immediately reach out to a student and their parents without having to jump out of the work they are doing. The report card and grading systems are flexible enough to support both traditional and proficiency-based philosophies. Alma is also proactive in cultivating relationships with third party vendors to add additional functionality to the environment. Alma has also been proactive in monitoring our state reporting requirements and updating our state report templates which is no small task. And Alma's support team is nothing short of amazing. My teachers have the freedom to reach out and get the support they require and that is priceless.
There were a few features I would have like that did not come "out of the box" such as robust reporting tools, and built-in scheduling tools. That said, Alma has worked to integrate those into the system and future users will not have that problem. The one other piece that I believe is in process is updating the transcript system so that it employs the same interface as the report card generator.
Alma Software - The Superstar of Student Information Systems!
Alma's ease of use for all stakeholder is top notch. Teachers, parents, students and office personnel can easily navigate through this platform with minimal clicks, all the tools and information you need as a user are right there in front of you. You no longer have to click 4 layers deep to find what you are looking for. Alma also provides an easy way to communicate with all stakeholders. While in the gradebook you can email students and parents, eliminating the need to use a secondary software program.
Along with a traditional grading program, Alma provides a true standards/competency based platform. This SIS has grown alongside the change in educational trends, meeting the needs of schools, transitioning their assessment/evaluation practices.
Support services for Alma are outstanding. The customer support team is available in the matter of minutes, assisting and answering all questions one might have. The team is extremely knowledgeable, friendly and willing to take an idea you might suggest and make it happen! This support team makes transition/roll over periods stress free!
Alma's reporting section for state reports and other school information reports still needs to develop. As time goes on I believe Alma will continue to make improvements in this area. Reports are currently available in a a basic excel or csv files. These files work for what we need, but I feel this area could develop more in the future.
It took a little getting used to at first, but I really ended up liking it.
First of all, I liked how often improvements were made throughout the year. It seemed that ALMA was always looking for ways to continue to improve the software in order to make it more user friendly. As a PE teacher, my grading system is quite different from the classroom teacher. I have 19 different classes (K-6) with about 30 students in each class. Each class would attend PE 2x each week. At first, it was very arduous to submit all the grades, one student at a time, at the end of each term. One of the improvements that occurred during this past school year, was to be able to submit an entire class's grades at the same time! That one change lightened my work load tremendously! And made it so I looked forward to doing grades instead of dreading it!
As I became more familiar with the features of the software, I became more comfortable using it, but I regret that it took me into my 2nd year using it, to become the most comfortable. Even so, the thing I liked the least about using this software was when I needed to make changes to the lesson details and maneuvering around the different tabs was a but cumbersome to have. Too many steps to have to make the changes I needed to. Hope that makes sense. Thanks!
Alma: A Teacher's Point of View
Our overall experience has been satisfactory. We rarely have the "drama" we dealt with when using our previous software. Keeping up to date more quickly and making changes to make the teacher use more efficient and faster would be of big help.
Our school was first drawn to Alma because it combined a good software to meet student, parent, and teacher needs with great value. Customer service is fantastic. If any of us ask an online question, help is quick.
Alma takes a long time to keep up with the times. For example, we have used it several years, but they just added the ability to enter a score on one student's grade book for a given assignment, and then hit enter, and then an automatic opening to the next student's grade to enter. In effect, it now performs well with a number key pad. Entry was singularly entered one a time which was so slow. In addition, there should be a quicker way to approve report cards. Finally, because we want students to monitory their grades, it would be helpful for them to have their own password access for limited viewing, keeping the parent password private for fuller access.
Definitely a Product for Educators
Having just come from a visually exhausting, not user-friendly information management and grading system, Alma has been a breath of fresh air. It was a pretty easy transition, figuring out the lay of the land. I was never confident on the old system. After only a few months into using Alma, I feel like I have a really good grasp on using it, and if not, I know that they have a great support system to help me out if I get stuck.
Is the Alma system absolutely perfect in every way? No product out there is! What has really impressed me about Alma is their incredible support team and communication. If we (the people using Alma) have a need and make a suggestion, they are lightning fast in coming up with a solution that fits the need. It is incredibly user friendly, visually appealing in its organization, and houses all of the tools we need for student information management in one tidy place.
My only wish would be to see a record of the messages that are sent directly to students and parents. However, Alma does allow you to send the message to your email, so it is possible to keep a record of messages that way.
Love this tool. Love the customer service even more.
We moved from a very expensive and ridiculously difficult system to this one and it has made things so much easier.
So far we use Alma mainly for the Grade Book and Attendance and it works really well.
Attendance has gone through some changes since we signed up in September 2015 and this has caused a little confusion but once you understand what's happening (contact support) it's quite simple to use. Don't let this deter you though because I've already been assured that changes are coming.
Speaking of which you won't get empty promises from these folks. I've requested a couple of updates since we signed up and some were even implemented within a couple of weeks.
Everyone is nice to you when they're trying to get your money. The true test of a company's motives is the way they treat their customers after the sale. Well Alma have passed this test with flying colors.
Every user (teacher and admin) has direct access to support so queries are usually dealt with pretty quickly since there is no need for support requests to go through me :)
One of the best things you can do when you get started is to go through the online documentation in the support area. Many of my questions were answered right there. Be warned though - you may need to actually read :O
As far as I can tell there is no perfect system out there (and I tried a ton of them before I found Alma) but with the constant improvements, beautiful interface and top notch customer support you'd be hard pressed to find a better solution.
Creating reports cards was actually enjoyable and teachers were very pleasantly surprised by the simplicity of the process on their end.
We also haven't been compelled to adopt all the modules at once. Adopting one small section at a time has made transitioning from our old, very outdated processes quite smooth and I for one can't wait to dive into the other features like parent portals and school fees.
You guys have a fan for life here :)
Response from Alma
We have LOVED working First Baptist Christian School and we look forward to many more years together! Thank you for taking the time to leave us a review. As you said, we are constantly improving the platform and we will keep you updated with any changes.
I have enjoyed the switch to Alma. For the most part, it is user-friendly and intuitive.
It does not require extensive training to learn how to use; the parent portal gives parents all the info they need at their fingertips; it has centralized all of our student info and made it accessible to all staff who need it; the report card design process is great--you can really customize it to suit your needs; they are constantly releasing updated and improved features based on customer feedback and requests; customer support is always available and very friendly/responsive.
The reporting functions are limited--it is frustrating at times not being able to design customized reports or to tweak the built-in reports for your exact needs; teachers have some complaints about gradebook's functionality (although many aspects of the gradebook are much better than our former system--it's tough to find everything you need in one program--there are always going to be tradeoffs); scheduling was a bit of a nightmare (on the other hand, our school's programming is very non-standard and often breaks software); there is no app yet--or even a mobile-friendly view--which is really needed for our population, where a large % of parents use their phones exclusively for internet access.
Alma SIS- Big pros and small cons
EXCELLENT support. The resources provided are clear and helpful, and support staff are more responsive than any other product or service I have experienced. Absolute top notch support.
In addition to standard features of other applications, this product provides the ability to generate customized reports on just about any type of student data, and also automates the bulk of our report card procedure.
This product does not compile data well- eg. Student grades or attendance expressed as an overall average, rather than being listed by course. Additionally, while attendance by class records is supported, this data is of limited reporting functionality compared to attendance by day.
School counselor review
There's too much to list everything!!!
I like the class function, the internal staff note function, the file cabinet, the graduation function and the reporting function, though I would tweak them all a bit.
I don't know how to ask for changes. That isn't really obvious to me at all. Everything below I'd probably be able to ask for, but don't know how.
With the class function, I would like to print class lists without the pictures. I also LIKE printing lists with pictures, but a lot of time I just want the data.
Also, I would love the print the class schedule as it is on the page, but it reverts to another version that I do not like at all.
With the Internal Staff Note function, I would like to be able to hide it on the overview page. That's the page that has grades and I like to show them to students, but NOT the internal staff notes.
ALMA allowed us to do standards based grading in a very efficient and seamless manner. ALMA had Florida standards uploaded for us, so it made it very easy to choose standards for grading. It was very easy to design the template that we wanted to use for our report cards. Responses to questions were almost immediate. ALMA is very intuitive to use - especially for someone like me who is technologically challenged.
Nothing stands out as a negative. I would be searching to find something that dissatisfied us.
As I alluded to the Alma support staff is excellent and we have our SJA support staff for Alma too so we are doing well with the transition. Teachers have more at their finger tips for flexibility with report cards and that makes all of us so happy...actually its terrific to see them so pleased.
There are so MANY things at your fingertips as you delve into this great student information system! If you can't find them and/or understand them Alma's excellent support team will walk you through it.
Change in all facets of life is a challenge. Being accustomed to my previous SIS program there are things I miss and just can't have. Student Attendance is an important part of my daily life. It frustrates me that though student names are still alphabetical they are presented in reports by first name not last. In a true emergency LAST NAMES are what we are accustomed to look for. Sure I can go in and make up my own special document from excel but most likely NOT during an emergency.
We began using the Alma gradebook last year, and then the Learning Report feature this year. Initial set up of the files and transfers was a little bumpy with customer service at the beginning of the year, so this accounts for 4 instead of 5 stars. From there, the team has really worked to adjust files to our needs, particularly when we come up to report card time.
The program still seems relatively new, as the team is building and embedding resources as it goes, and customer service is responsive to requests for new types of reports. I really appreciate the chat feature in the program, to see which customer service members have seen a message in the queue, and that I get an email if I'm not online to see it.
One difficulty that has taken some time is the process of loading our state standards. Only national Common Core standards for math and ELA, and the National Science Standards are available for the gradebook side. This meant hours, hours and hours of work on our part to code and format our state standards to send to Alma so that, hopefully soon, they can be uploaded and our teachers can use them. In the meantime, no scores on the gradebook side can be loaded for any subject other than math, ELA, and science, given that we want to use Common Core and NSS standards for those assignments.
The process of loading specialized learning targets for report cards was very easy the first term. Since we were learning the process, teachers wanted to create some adjustments to those for the second term, and that required a huge effort on Alma's end, so we've been nervous and eager to see that working and get reports done in time for parents. Likely, now that we've gone through that with them, it would be easier for other schools if needed from this point forward.
Response from Alma
We are working all of the time to improve our custom and state standards import process. We appreciate not only your patience with the process but your feedback. We also hope to make updating academic targets smoother - as we know these are constantly evolving at schools. We will keep you updated on any progress we make. Thanks again for the feedback!
Excellent customer service!
Alma has been a great solution for our attendance, grading and communication systems needs. There is a seamless integration with Google classroom and it's very easy to communicate with a single student, their family or the whole class. Health information is readily available and I can also see a student's attendance and progress in other classes. When I have contacted ALMA for assistance, the response is almost immediate. There are emails with information about new features and how to integrate them. They have been extremely responsive to educators' needs during COVID-19 homeschooling this spring .
It would be nice to be able to change a grade transferred from Google classroom without needing to go into that assignment in Google. Automatic grade updates or syncing from Google classroom would be helpful too, as I often forget to re-sync Google assignments in ALMA.