Along with the change of the new school year, the School City of Mishawaka (SCM) has made several changes for the current school year. One of the more debated changes is the change to the Alma grading system, which is now in effect for all of the SCM Schools.
Eric Johnson, SCM’s technology director, had a major role in the switch to the Alma grading system. Alma is a system that “manages all of the student information” according to Johnson. Alma is a “foundational system that a lot of other things fit on top of”, Johnson stated, stressing that this system is extremely important and vital to a smooth school year. Ultimately, SCM’s old system, Infinite Campus, was becoming too expensive, and after forming several user groups testing out the new system, Alma became the “clear choice” for the schools. Due to the referendum and other technology changes for the school year, there was “a need for a modern, easy to use, flexible, student information system,” Johnson stated.
The Alma system has caused quite an uproar with both teachers and students. Mike Breske, a social studies teacher at Mishawaka High School (MHS), says that ALMA is “disappointing [because it is] taking so long. He says that the grading system “is more time consuming to do simple tasks”. Some examples that he stated were that it adds about five to ten seconds onto each grade when entering, which can add up when you have 100+ student’s grades to enter. Both Johnson and his co workers are aware of the issues with the Alma system, but Johnson said that most of the issues will be resolved in the next week and a half. Sincere Hughes, a junior at MHS, had strong opinions about the switch. “I can’t log on to my email account, how can I get into Alma?” Hughes asked. Kristina Dambrauskas, a Spanish teacher at MHS, said that “the transition [from Infinite Campus] is challenging.” However, both teachers and students are optimistic about the change. “We just need to figure out the quirks and how to use it,” stated Dambrauskas.