2024 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 PowerSchool SchoolMessenger Finalsite Connect RAVE SwiftK12 Ending: July 1, 2024 Infinite Campus Messenger One Call Now ParentSquare Remind Apptegy 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              
Text Messaging                    
Unlimited length text messages             Some messages limited to 140 characters, others are limited to 1000 characters
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.)           Minimal date options in merge fields
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.), plus date options   Supports a limited number of database fields for mail merge and/or minimal date options in merge fields
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 plus dates     Supports a limited number of database fields for mail merge and/or not in subject line or date options
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                    
Transmission reports that show details for each message type: answer, voicemail, busy, unreachable, etc.    
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   Hard-coded choices
Emergency Alert Features                    
Anti-Bullying Hotline            
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                      
Included with premium charge                    
Partial compliance, full compliance with additional charge                      

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