While some K-12 schools may use a modern tech solution that performs one task really well — like information management systems or grade-book apps, for example — not many have a one-stop platform that can help educators and administrators accomplish multiple tasks.
Portland-based startup Alma wants to give them one, and today the company unveiled a cloud-based product that brings all those tools into one system and streamlines classroom management.
Alma features a personalized dashboard with tools that include report cards, attendance tracking, parent and student portals, calendars, message notifications and lesson planning, among others.
The hope is to help ease the administrative burden for educators so they can have more time teaching students. Co-founder and CEO Andrew Herman started Alma because he personally dealt with these problems while teaching in the public school system.
“It is such a hard thing for a teacher on a Sunday night knowing that you have to set aside time for grading, class prep and lesson plans for the week,” he said. “Every hour of teaching is a couple hours outside of the classroom, and being overloaded and not being prepared is a terrible feeling. Ultimately, the people who will suffer are the kids, which is the whole reason we’re doing this.”
Herman and his co-founder Elizabeth Long spend six months talking to dozens of administrators and teachers to learn more about what needs were being unmet.
“Their software was hindering,” said Herman, who’s been involved with more than a dozen startups. “It was dragging on them, as opposed to empowering.”
Alma has been testing its solution in ten schools for the past year and will cap the number of customers at 500 for a fall 2014 rollout. The company, which employs 12, wouldn’t reveal its funding to date, but this SEC filing notes that it has raised $699,750 of a $2 million round.