Alma Acquires Always Prepped to Simplify School Data Management

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Blackboard is not the only learning management system (LMS) snapping up companies these days. Alma, a Portland, OR-based startup that offers schools both a LMS and student information system (SIS) rolled into a single platform, has acquired Always Prepped.

It’s the first acquisition for the new kid on the block, which released its “Holistic Student Engagement Platform” in February 2014 and is looking to stake its claim in a market dominated by Pearson PowerSchool and Schoology. Alma CEO, Andrew Herman, hopes to convert schools and districts with a sleeker platform that has LMS and SIS functionalities and features including attendance records and bus routes to lesson plans, gradebooks, text alerts and transcripts.

The company says it usually takes 1 to 2 weeks for schools to switch over from their existing systems; the process is longer for districts.

This deal will boost Alma’s data integration capabilities. “The primary purpose of the acquisition,” says Alma CEO, Andrew Herman, “is that Always Prepped brings an understanding of data analytics and how schools and districts want to see data.”

Based in Washington, DC, Always Prepped was founded by Fahad Hassan to provide a single dashboard that pulls together information from different sources and allow educators to see correlations between data like attendance, assessments, behavior and classroom performance. Having integrated with Pearson products, Khan Academy, Socrative and Northwest Evaluation Association, the tool has been dubbed a “Mint.com for education data.”

“After spending the last several years integrating the Always Prepped Data Management solution with established legacy LMS, curriculum, and content providers,” Hassan said in a statement, “we reached the conclusion that the challenge of integration with multiple platforms was exponentially more difficult without a tight SIS to latch on to.”

His job was made difficult partly due to the patchwork of add-ons and customizations that many schools and districts tape onto their SISs. He’s convinced that Alma’s integrated SIS/LMS platform can provide the backbone infrastructure to allow him to continue his work in student data analytics. Hassan will be joining Alma and remain in DC to lead the company’s East Coast office.

AlwaysPrepped is not alone in attempting to build a Holy Grail-esque tool that combines data from different tools and sources into a single dashboard and extracts actionable insights. Junyo, a high-flying startup started by a Zynga co-founder, had similar aspirations before ultimately pivoting.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Launched in February 2014, Alma’s platform is currently being used in 37 states across 24 countries. 

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