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.
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!
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 :)
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.
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.
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.
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!
This was the most user-friendly, aesthetically pleasing learning management platform I have used. The staff seemed friendly and in consistent dialogue for improvement, which puts it ahead of the others I have used.
Aside from the user-friendly interface (for faculty, parents, and students), I liked, essentially, how accommodating the site was for my needs. I liked that posting assignments was easy and that eventually the option to duplicate assignments was added. I also like being able to upload files, links, and write (and see clearly!) instructions in the assignment narrative box. Speaking of which, the option to comment thoughtfully on assignments was great.
I remember wishing that I wanted the duplicate feature to duplicate everything as it only copied some of the information, not all of it. I also wish teachers could set preferences, like a memory or default setting, so that I wouldn't have to click between tabs if that was not a frequently used tab (for instance, clicking "details" instead of seeing the student roster when checking assignments).
It is easy to use and it makes it so easy to communicate student performance with parents and administrators.
I love how easy it is to use. I can have my students call out scores for homework assignments and be updating them during class time. I also love it as a parent communication tool. With the simple categories and live updates, I can quickly show my parents where their students are struggling simply by updating my gradebook.
I wish the assignments in each subject were sorted with the most recent assignments right next to the students names. I also wish there was a feature that would allow you to email a particular group or class right from the main screen instead of having to open that class.
-Very easy to grade an assessment on multiple standards
-Constantly updating software to make it easier for teachers
-Easy to put anecdotal notes on students accounts that parents and teachers can see
-It seems that the team at Alma works hard to make any individual changes you might want for your school
-There is no app for teachers, this is a major downside for schools where teachers do a lot on their phone. I miss the days when I used to be able to easily take attendance or access student information from my phone
-The grading portal still has some technological kinks that need to be worked out. Sometimes you will click on one student's name and you end up accidentally entering grades for another because the screen jumps. Once you do this it is difficult to delete the grade unless you mark the assignment N/A.
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.
I like that I can look up any student in our school and see that student's schedule and current information.
1. Our students (Seniors especially) cannot get their current transcripts. This is troubling for many reasons. Perhaps the most important being their choices for scholarships and higher education will be affected by this. Students cannot apply for financial assistance through scholarships without current transcripts. I have personally spoken with at least three students who have missed out on scholarship opportunities, simply because they cannot access current transcripts.
2. Can't see overall student GPA
3. Can't see student class rank
4. Student Mobile usage is very confusing. Can't see grades the way they should.
5. Ease of access is horrible
6. No mobile app, and mobile website is very difficult to read
7. Not organized well
8. When emailing "all students" I cannot exclude certain classes; I can't email multiple classes at once without including EVERYONE
9. For attendance, it is very confusing. If a student is marked present first class, they are marked present for the entire day. This was clearly set up for use in an Elementary School. High School is different. We need to be able to see where our students are throughout the day.
10. Inputting grades takes many more steps than our previous system. There is no way to toggle between students with the keyboard.
11. There should be a way to block certain people from seeing certain information. At the beginning of the school year, student Social Security Numbers were viewable by any teacher or staff in our building.
Below we briefly address each of your concerns. But, because your satisfaction is our starting point, we will also follow-up for a deeper conversation about this. We want you to be elated with Alma!
#1, 2, 3, 9, 10, 11) We do provide the functionality you're describing and would love to review each item with you. Based on the information you provided, these concerns may indicate further training is needed. Your Account Manager will be in touch soon or you can always contact us through our in-app support.
#5 and 7) Most of Alma¿s users love our ease-of-use, navigation, and access, but as with all things, we can/will keep getting better. Let¿s discuss further.
#4 and 6) Depending on the phone size and the gradebook in use, the experience for viewing student grades on a phone can be less than ideal. We are actively exploring more options.
#8) Great idea! This is the first time we have heard this, so thank you for bringing it to our attention. Your suggestion has been logged
You can log in quickly. The people who have come in to assist with how horrific this year has been have been mostly humble and at least tried to help.
Absolutely impossible to have what we need at our hands as high school counselors. Everything is laborious or actually impossible to do. It has taken MONTHS to get even tiny bits of advances to make this usable. Transcripts, which are an essential piece for our kids, took 6 months to have functioning, and they're still inaccurate. Scheduling is months behind because the programming is inept for a school this size. It lacks confidentiality and privacy that's important for our students. Household units are not available, access to other buildings makes it impossible to know who has siblings and other people living in their home, which poses a safety issue when filing reports to CPS, report cards are still completely wrong and inaccurate. I could truly go on for an awfully long time, but I digress.
At the end of the day, I think I can vouch for every person in my building when I say that this program was rolled out in a deplorable way, changes and improvements are slow and sometimes non-existent, and it's made me reconsider even working in this corporation due to how terrible this system is. A program in its infancy has been detrimental to every single stakeholder in this corporation, and I've been disappointed since the first day of training in August.
We truly appreciate you taking the time to help us improve the Alma experience. Change can be difficult, and while most Alma users have had positive experiences, we are continuously improving because our mission of serving educators like you is our life work. Along those lines, we have the industry's leading response time to customer inquiries by a factor of 10.
We love working with your corporation because of the positive impact it is having on its students -- and we know its an organization you can be proud to be a part of.
Other similarly-sized districts in the Alma family currently enjoy the flexibility, security and power our platform provides - and we'd love to explore how we can bring you to that same opinion.
Your account manager will reach out to set up a time to go over (and fix) any issues needing attention.
I am able to quickly get in touch with my students at any time regarding any matter that needs to be addressed.
I like the fact that this software is simple to use with no prior instructions needed to start. I was able to accurately use the software the same day that I bought it meaning that I was able to really get a grasp on how it works. I also am a fact that I can create a file report for each student and write notes daily to track their progress. This is not something that seems to be common with software, but I appreciate the added touch.
I wish that the software gave me the ability to see absences as well as when students have been tardy. Having this information handy would allow me to file my reports more accurately. I also am not a fan of the price tag, I feel as though it could be cheaper.
I love the visual simplicity of the grade book and the compatibility with Standards Based Grading. Not many grading softwares have the finesse for options and sophistication within SB. I've also had great response from folks on the team to help fix issues quickly and respond to inquiries.
We are still figuring out how to set up out report card to best reflect SBG. Since our school writes narrative reports in addition to assigning standards, the option for narrative reports still needs some work. Our teachers write extensive narrative reports, and currently, the text options are pretty minimal, including text edit features when copying and pasting from an outside document. Additionally, we'd LOVE to see compatibility with Google Classroom for assignments and the grade book.
Much much easier to manage student data than power school
Alma has a great and beautiful interface and its very easy to use. The support is excellent, easy to access, and very responsive. We wanted to replace Power School because it was difficult to use and felt like it was designed for larger institutions, requiring more resources than we have.
When the product was new it wasn't as robust as other similar software but they take user feedback and constantly add new features.
Thank you so much for taking the time to send us a review! It's great to hear how user friendly you find Alma to be, and yes, we are constantly improving. New updates each week!
Clean and easy to navigate whether on the parent side or on the administrative side. Customer service is also quick to respond when we are in need.
Queries of information cannot be easily accessible unless requested. School families are unable to access their own personal information to edit. Families would also like to be able to see contact information for families within their child's class. It would be beneficial if families could email their student's parents just as teachers can so that they may plan for upcoming parties, field trips, etc. without contacting the school for names, emails, etc.
As a teacher, alma makes it very easy for me to keep students and families up to date on student progress.
Alma's user interface is easy to navigate every step of the way - from taking attendance to posting and grading assignments to creating and publishing report cards. Features are easy to use and customizable by class. Their customer support team is consistently responsive to requests and does an effective job communicating and offering support for new features.
In the future, I'd love to see alma develop an app for mobile devices or a more user-friendly mobile version of the website.
Able to learn a universal program that could potentially be used at a different school.
I LOVE the new and easy way to submit grades. Easy few step process. Before there was a more complex way and now it's a simple three-step process to submit y'all my grades. I have group grades and I LOVE that it separates them by grade.
There is absolutely nothing negative. The whole system is consistently improving and making it that much easier for teachers to use in our short amount of time to submit grades for all of our classes.
Finding all the information related to students all in one place.
The student and parent portals are very useful aspects of ALMA.
The ability to communicate, in bulk, with different groups.
School announcements is a good feature.
Alma Start is a potentially great service.
we are not able to use Arabic to enter information (we are a school in Lebanon, where Arabic is the official language)
It would be a good idea to be able to share disciplinary incidents on the parent and/or student portals.
Pros: Price can't be beat; extremely user friendly; best customer service ever experienced - they listen to your needs and try to give you exactly what you want and they respond immediately; personal training for your school; help available by email and phone; product still being developed so as a customer you have a lot of input; live demo when deciding to use or not
Cons: No accounting or student discipline record keeping options; admin privileges are all or nothing - you cannot give someone admin privileges for just one task without giving them access to all admin privileges; product still being developed so had to wait for certain features
My experience with Alma has been great! We're a new school, so have an extremely limited budget. We had expected to have to settle for a grading program and Excel or Access for the admin. Alma was the perfect choice for us! They have been so helpful and fast with their customer service. They are new, so are still working out the kinks, but each time they change something, it just makes our use of the program easier. Alma is so user friendly, I could have learned the program by just exploring on my own, but the live tutorial for our school saved me the time. Alma only charges for certain features and even those costs are nominal. There are only a couple more features I'd like to see in Alma, the financial and discipline record keeping. Other than that, it's got everything we have needed this year.
Hi Karyn, Thank you for the kind words! The good news is we will have a discipline feature available for next year! We will not have a full accounting tool next year but we are building a fee tracking tool. If there are other features that could benefit Pleasant Grove don't hesitate to let Karen know. We are always adding new features!
I'm happy with the improvements are have been made. I'd like to see a seating chart for each class. The system could create it by abc's, age, boy/girl or randomly.
Can access on-line at home or work.
Lots of clicking. Must click many times to enter grades. I'd like to be able to 10 key.
Thank you so much for taking the time to send in your feedback! We agree that the ability to create a seating chart would be a great addition to Alma and the team is currently working on a way to make this possible in the near future.
Again, thank you for your feedback!
Pros-Customer service is great. They work on updates almost every week as their product continues to grow and expand to meet the needs of school districts.
Cons-They are developing the transcript and the scheduler component. That is why I rated overall as 4 star instead of 5.(I am a high school counselor).
Ease of use is continuing to get better and better with each update they make. It's not that the program is hard to use it is just that occasionally there are a few more clicks you have to make in order to get to where you want to be. However, they have added a few things just in the last week that are making it easier and more efficient to use.(gradebook updates, search bar, etc)
Making the jump to Alma was a big leap at the high school because when we started they did not have a scheduler component or a transcript. This made me very nervous as a high school counselor who uses both of these items. However, I was tired of having to track students using a credit worksheet. I know that with a year or two Alma will be were the high school needs them to be. The parents and students have made many comments about how easy it is for them to use their side of Alma. The communication tools within Alma are easy to use and something I use to reach parents/students about different opportunities, scholarships, testing dates, etc.
I am excited to be on this journey with Alma and feel like we are headed in the right direction!
Thank you for this valuable feedback! We are happy to hear that you and your parents are finding Alma easy to use. Thank you for trusting us to meet your scheduling and transcript needs - scheduled improvements are definitely on our roadmap in the months ahead! Kind regards,
What I liked the most about this Software is that it helps teachers to stay organized in their daily plannings, but also in the evaluation process.
This was my first year as a teacher, and I loved using ALMA because I got the chance to put all the information that I needed in that Software. Just by clicking on ALMA I could take attendance, find information about my students, update my plannings, follow the CCSS Standards and upload the grades.
At the beginning of the school year, it was a little complicated for me to understand how ALMA worked. I had to ask many times to the Principal of my school about how to upload my daily plannings and align the assessments to the Standards. However, after a few weeks of practicing, it became easier for me.
Excellent. This is our 4th year with Alma. They've added so many features, making it better and better.
The Interface is highly intuitive and easy to figure out.
The problems I've had were that they let us purchase features that weren't actually ready. I think it wasn't fair, and it ended up creating problems, and Alma never apologizes or admits that they weren't ready. A few features don't make sense for us, and they're not customizable.
This is my 2nd year of working with ALMA. I have worked on many other school products for attendance and grades, and this is definitely the clearest one I have worked on.
It is easy to find everything I need when adding assignments and grades for my students. I love that I can add comments with each assignment. It is easy to go between classes from one feature of ALMA to another. I am also a parent, and I love how I can quickly see my child's grades, AND missing assignments on one page. This helps us keep up with what needs to be done.
I can't think of anything that I really dislike.
Excellent management of student information - excellence in parent communication through Alma.
Wide variety of features and uses - also, the immediacy of customer support - when we have suggested the need for new features, these options have been added
Occasional shut-downs due to updates - otherwise, I don't really think of aspects that I don't like. Our past experience with RenWeb was negative, so Alma is comparatively flawless.