The company’s mission, says Philip Cutler, co-founder and CEO of Paper, headquartered in Montreal, Canada, “is to empower all students to succeed with equitable access to academic support.”
“We hire full-time company employees, not contractors or freelancers,” said Cutler, a former teacher. “We hire high-performing students, PhD candidates, and teachers with subject matter expertise from K-12, all with thorough background checks.”
He and co-founder Roberto Cipriani, the chief operating officer who oversees the technology side of the business, saw what they called ‘inequities in the education system’, causing ‘a learning gap’ and wanted to remedy it believing that education is the greatest equalizer.
“The paper has proven to be an invaluable resource for our students, parents, teachers and administrators,” said Superintendent Dr. Michael Leitera. “Teachers were immediately engaged in the tutoring sessions…alleviating children’s fear of ‘easy’ answers.”
The tutoring lessons use what is called a “Socratic approach”, which means that the instructor responds to a student’s question with a question in order to get the student to use critical thinking skills, a method used by Socrates and Plato in ancient Greece.
With this tutoring program, students can work individually and independently, or parents can help the student at home.
“Parents worked with their children on paper, even though it’s a subject (parents) never had, or (hadn’t studied) for a long time,” Leitera said. “The paper covers many subjects students take in school, from elementary reading to advanced college-related courses.”
Teachers can see student activity on the Paper platform, so they can see where students are asking for help and can adapt their teaching and classroom goals to personalize assignments. Students can rely on Paper’s one-to-one tutoring capabilities, with a tutor available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Additionally, the tutoring service is multilingual, offering one-on-one tutoring in English, Spanish, French, and Mandarin. Within 30 seconds, Paper matches students with the best tutor to meet their needs based on the student’s question, grade level, and language preference.
Paper’s tutors add an extra level of teacher support, serving as a kind of around-the-clock teaching assistant for teachers.
Students have no limit on the length of their tutoring sessions or the number of times they can come back for help on the same or a different topic.
“With Paper, any student can receive high-quality homework and study help anytime,” Leitera said.
“With Paper Tutorial, students get unlimited 24/7 live help and written feedback, teachers get insights to address individual learning gaps, and administrators get actionable data to illuminate strategic decisions.”
School board chairman Mark Hiler said the society was something the board was unanimous in supporting.
“Our district has areas of socio-economic decline, with families not having access to resources that more affluent districts could enjoy,” Hiler said.
“In a fiscally responsible way, we have been able to significantly increase the support we are able to offer students. Paper gives our students an edge over their peers as they prepare for the job market or post-secondary education. The board’s collective goal has always been to give our students every opportunity to succeed and Paper helps us achieve that goal.
Just a week after the tutoring service was rolled out, Dr Loree Houk, Assistant to the Superintendent, reported that 1,552 individual tutoring sessions had taken place and 55 essays had been reviewed.
“We are encouraged by the early feedback and usage ahead of official launch and look forward to a great experience as our future with Paper unfolds,” Houk said.