2023 School Parent Communication System Comparison Chart

As a school or school district, you have many options for automated mass notification to send alerts to parents, students, and staff. We asked a consultant to research the options and compile a comparison chart. Information was gathered from the respective vendors’ websites, brochures, recorded demos, and in some cases from their customers. BrightArrow strives to provide you up-to-date and accurate information so you consider all your options as objectively as possible. If you see inaccurate information, please notify us, including a link, image, or video supporting the claim, so that we can update the chart to keep you informed in a precise manner.

Features BrightArrow SchoolMessenger Blackboard RAVE SwiftK12 Infinite Campus Messenger One Call Now ParentSquare Remind Apptegy PowerSchool Unified Communications Reason for partial flag:
Mass Notification                        
System has the ability to send notifications via:                        
Phone (land-line, mobile)      
SMS Text Messages    
App Push Notifications            
Social Media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)      
Email Link to Voice Message      
Two-Way Instant Messaging                
Pricing Information                        
Price per person $1.50 $1.75 $1.78 $1.25 - $2.00 $2.30 $1.50 $4.00-$5.00 $3.00 - $4.00 $4.87 - $6.31 $3.50 - $10.50    
Price includes Price per student and staff per year, includes most base and advanced features except BrightChat ($0.75 per person). Price per student per year–covers only base features with more functionality costing extra. $34,044 for 19,122 students (BB Mass Notification). Price per student per year–covers only base features with more functionality costing extra. Includes unlimited messaging and PDF Builder. Price per student per year–covers only base features with more functionality costing extra. Annual messenger fee per student per year–covers only base features with more functionality costing extra. $1,200 for 800 students. Price per student per year–covers only base features with more functionality costing extra. Price per student per year, includes mass notification, mobile app, web portal, and other features. Price per student per year, includes premium version of Remind. Price per student per year, includes mass notification, web portal, and other features. Unlimited two-way translated text messaging, email, and auto-call. All add-ons additional price up to $10.50.    
Text Messaging                        
Unlimited length text messages                      
Automatic translation of text message to contacts' languages, over 100 languages     Supports fewer than 100 languages
Work across all major wireless carriers and wireless phone models in North America            
Ability to send messages in an expedited fashion during emergencies              
Entirely automated opt-in procedure for text messages to new phones                    
Intelligent handling of reply texts based on customer's preferences                      
Automated opt-in/opt-out                  
Uses short code true texting (SMPP) in U.S. and long-code true texting (SMPP) in Canada          
Mail Merge fields: Display data from SIS or other databases (transportation, meal, etc.)                      
Optional feature that can require a designated person review and approve messages before they go out                      
Ability to schedule messages into the future      
Text based surveys                  
Voice Calls                        
Able to record a message from receiving or initiating a call, play back, preview, and re-record the message   Only offers one or the other option for recording a message
Automatic translation of text-to-speech voice calls, over 20 languages         Do not support 20 languages
Ability to dial-in, enter a code, and launch a voice message without using the web or app                  
Have the ability to customize the telephone number display (caller ID)          
Mail Merge fields: Display data from SIS or other databases (transportation, meal, etc.)       Supports a limited number of database fields for mail merge
Automated opt-out                    
Phone survey functionality                  
Multipart messaging                
Deduping voice calls            
Toll-free caller ID number to allow message play-back upon call back                      
Accurate detection of live answer vs voice-mail to ensure delivery of phone message           Detection problems with voice mails with pauses in the middle causing partial messages to be delivered
Limitations on SPF, Reply-To, DKIM, and other mechanisms that are important to ensure emails are not blocked by SPAM filters         Limitations on SPF, Reply-To, DKIM, and other mechanisms to minimize SPAM detection
Can add CC, BCC, and "reply to" in email description                      
Ability to create emails using a full HTML editor for inserting graphics, attachments, links, and other features          
Automatic translation of email to contacts' languages, over 100 languages   Supports fewer than 100 languages
Report emailing, such as report cards, customer specific financial reports, at no extra charge                    
CAN-SPAM and CASL compliant                
Automated unsubscribe   1          
Mail Merge fields: Display data from SIS or other databases (transportation, meal, etc.), including subject line         Supports a limited number of database fields for mail merge
HTML templates: Users can create customized email templates and use them as branded emails        
Email preview        
Intelligently deduping emails across lists          
Image management with uploading, preview, and searches       Constraints/limitations in the image management
List and Contact Management                        
Ability to create lists via an import from a spreadsheet, with auto-detection of fields and matching stored contact records     Rigid requirement regarding the columns and column headers; no auto-detection
Ability to create copies, list subsets, superset lists, all of which can be linked or unlinked   List can be derived from other lists, but the linking mechanisms have some limitations
Unlimited self-updating groups/lists (dynamically change based on source data)      
Have the ability to export existing recipient and contact information to Excel or a CSV file        
Ability to build a list based on specific fields        
Real-time filter for granular selection of contacts                
Configurable list view to allow intelligence, searching, sorting, favorites and subfolders for organization of lists                      
Message Management                        
Message templates to quickly find and send pre-configured messages      
Able to create automated messages launch at a specific time each week without user interaction      
System allows user to pre-create messages for future purposes    
Message and list pair can be pre-configured to send messages with two clicks                      
Messages can be locked into lists to ensure consistency                  
Ability to deliver notifications 24/7 with 99.99% availability                
No hardware needed beyond PC stations    
Service provided through web-login and mobile app      
No data is sold or given to telemarketers or other solicitors      
Ability to secure database, only allow users with appropriate credentials to access given information      
Single sign-on integration using LDAP, ADFS, Azure, Google, PowerSchool, Blackboard and others           Only supports some of the lists SSO mechanisms
Includes usage of expansive API to allow embedding of communications feature anywhere in work (no additional charge)                      
Fully Compliant with FCC TCPA    
Less than 0.67% of capacity used on average for voice calls (even less for email/text)                      
Includes parent-facing app to receive/retrieve messages, push notifications, and adjust settings (no additional charge)                  
Multiple redundant SAS 70 type 2 certified            
No single point of failure                
Reports of Sent Messages                        
Generates transmission reports, available immediately, that show details for each message type: live answer, voicemail, busy, unreachable, no answer    
Ability to to automatically send the report to any administrator via email, or exported as a file              
User Accounts                        
Includes user licenses for all staff/teachers (no additional charge)                      
Allows an unlimited number of phone numbers and email addresses for each student, parent, or faculty member        
System administrator can create an unlimited number of users to separate and control access to different groups, lists, and reports                    
System allows shared lists and groups for different users, and groups of users, including read-only access links       Sharing of lists and groups have limitations both with licensing and read-only functionality
Parent Portal                        
Mobile App Parent Portal to subscribe, manage preferences and prior message vault                  
Web based community recipient portal: Subscribe, unsubscribe, manage preferences and prior message vault              
Parent Portal allows parents to add phones/emails outside of SIS contact data for temporary usage                    
Two-way community communication portal organized by department and school                      
Automated Notification                        
Automated absence notification individualized per campus, including auto-translation     Does not include auto-translation
Other automated notifications (e.g. low lunch balance alerts) added any time        
Emergency Alert Features                        
SafeCast (no additional charge)                
Anti-Bullying Hotline (no additional charge)                
Designate messages as emergency to ensure they are sent out in front of all other messages (no additional charge)                 Available to a limited degree, at an extra charge
Weblink and call/text anonymous (no additional charge)                
Anonymous tip reporting via web/mobile app                    
24/7 unlimited phone and email support                
Unlimited training through remote web sessions                
Rapid implementation to minimize effort of district staff                  
Customer resource site with tips, tricks and videos                
Direct Integration                        
Michigan Data Hub                      
Infinite Campus      
Blackbaud EMS                      
Genius SIS for Virtual Schools                    
Q (Aequitas Solutions)            
Senior Systems                      
Google Sheets                      
Over 100 data sources                  
Embedded into PowerSchool user-interface                
Ability to schedule daily absent/tardy calls by individual school 1          
Low lunch balance notification            
Integration with PowerSchool Parent Portal                
Integration with PowerTeacher and PowerTeacher Pro Gradebook                    
Automatic calculate attendance totals for special messaging of cumulative absences/tardies                      
Ability to send PDF, PowerSchool object reports , and MBA reports             Only some report types available, extra charge for feature
PowerTeacher includes filtering for teachers to send, such as current "final grade" and assignments missed                      
COVID-19 tracking notification feature                      
Mail merge of any PowerSchool field into voice calls, texts, and emails, including in subject of email                
Free emailing report cards with posting to Parent Portal                      
Flexible encryption of PDF reports for emailing, including all birthdate formats                      
Support for PowerSchool Contacts           Constraints on which contacts can be loaded
Email teachers who are late in submitting attendance                      
Two-Way Instant Messaging Communication                        
Two-way IM communication between parents, students, and admins              
Ability to send attachments, permission slips, images, videos, and other files              
Easy for parents to join and engage                    
Seamless integration using text, emails, and push notifications                      
Automated synchronization with student database for populating class rosters                      
Custom Branded Mobile App                        
Custom app branded for each school that includes full information about classes, schedules, meals, announcements and all other school information              
Other Features                        
Online payments                      
Teacher conference scheduling                      
Volunteer sign-up                      
Included with additional charge                      
Partial compliance, full compliance with additional charge                      

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***BrightArrow is not affiliated with PowerSchool. Use of their name does not imply endorsement or sponsorship.