Paper (company)

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Paper
Paper Logo
Type of site
Private Company
Founded2014
Headquarters
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Key peoplePhilip A. Cutler CEO, Roberto Cipriani CTO/COO
IndustryEducational Technology, e-learning,
Employees2000+ (2023)
URLpaper.co

Paper is an educational technology company that partners with school systems to offer unlimited, on-demand access to academic support including tutoring, writing review and coaching, college and career support, AI-powered fluency practice, and gamified vocabulary and math practice.

The company is headquartered in Montreal, Quebec and has operations across North America with a second headquarters in Las Vegas, NV.

Paper claims to offer one-on-one virtual tutoring, however tutors often work with multiple students at the same time without informing the students or school districts which they serve.[1]

Paper considers their 250 full-time corporate employees, and 2000 part-time tutors to be remote workers rather than coming into an office on a full time basis.

In 2023, due to reduced pandemic funding being provided to school districts, Paper's revenue and bookings significantly lagged expectations.[2] This resulted in multiple rounds of layoffs in 2023, which saw a reduction of 273 corporate staff. In April 2023, Paper reduced its corporate workforce by 81. Deeper cuts followed in August and September 2023. Those rounds saw respective dismissals of 105 and 87 corporate employees. Hundreds of tutors have been cut from its workforce throughout 2022 and 2023 as well.[citation needed]

History[edit]

Originally named GradeSlam, Paper was founded in 2014 by McGill University graduates Philip Cutler and Roberto Cipriani. In 2022, Paper acquired Figure Math, and in 2023, Paper acquired career and college readiness platform MajorClarity, and AI-based reading software provider Readlee.[3] [4]

Funding Sources[edit]

Since 2016, the company has been venture backed.[5] They have raised $389.6 million dollars from investors including Google, Salesforce, Softbank, IVP, Sapphire Ventures. Paper received tens of millions of dollars of contracts from schools trying to help students recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and had more than three million users across the United States at the height of the pandemic.[1]

Software and product[edit]

Live Help[edit]

Paper provides students in partner districts with 24/7 access to chat-based tutors. Tutors working for Paper are often regarded as extensions of each school’s teaching staff. Teachers are granted access to see their students' interactions on Paper. [6]

Though advertised as one-on-one, Paper's virtual tutoring actually involves tutors working with multiple students at the same time, as a cost-saving measure, without informing the students.[1] In some cases, the schools and districts Paper contracts with are unaware of this practice.[1] Although Paper tells clients that it provides "a 1:1 student-tutor ratio", its internal materials says tutors can easily work with three students at once and that "there is no maximum number of students a tutor can be matched with simultaneously".[1] According to the company's records, tutors spend 45% of their time working with two or more students at once.[1] Paper pays tutors extra when they work with four or more students at the same time.[1]

Writing Feedback[edit]

Paper's Review Center feature allows students to submit written work to be reviewed and given annotated feedback by a writing-specific tutor with the aim of helping students advance writing skills. Tutors are advised to spend no more than 30 minutes per assignment regardless of its length; to meet the time limit, some tutors say they copy pre-written feedback on assignments.[1]

Initially intended for language arts classes, the Review Center feature has been encourage for use in multiple subjects, as well as for resumes and other personal writing pieces. In 2020, Paper introduced the “plagiar-eyes” badge which appears on reviewed essays to indicate to students and teachers that work is required to remove tutor-perceived instances of plagiarism. [7]

Education Content[edit]

In March 2020, Paper launched an education industry-focused blog. The Paper blog includes educator spotlights, industry interviews, and series about coping with school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic.[8]

The company has released a series of White Papers and guides for the education and edtech industry. These documents highlight research and analysis across a spectrum of issues and ideas in education.[9]

Educational impact[edit]

Paper has conducted a number of efficacy studies to identify the educational impact of their Educational Support System (ESS). A study conducted with 5th grade students saw students using Paper experience 30% more growth in English language development than peers without access to the ESS.[10]

A study with Hillsborough County Public Schools found statistically significant academic gains among students who used Paper for ELA. Students of Hispanic descent and those below the poverty line were the two groups who saw the largest gains.[11]

During the extended school closures caused by COVID-19, Paper was heavily depended upon by schools looking to provide remote teaching and learning for students. The company reported record months of student engagement in March 2020 and April 2020 as a result of distance learning initiatives.[12] The company is reported to have large penetration in major US markets including the Bay Area where over a dozen school districts have implemented the service.[13]

In June 2021, the company reported supporting over 1 million students and employing 1000 tutors and 130 staff.[14] As of 2023, Paper reported supporting over three million students on the platform. School districts partnering with Paper included many of the largest in the US including Los Angeles Unified School District, Clark County School District, Hillsborough County Public Schools, School District of Palm Beach County, Boston Public Schools, Atlanta Public Schools; however, Hillsborough County Public Schools and Boston Public Schools have severed ties with Paper.[15]

Officials in New Mexico canceled a contract with Paper in 2023 after finding that its services were not adequately helping students.[16] Furthermore, officials from the New Mexico Public Education Department, along with other school districts have stated that Paper had given them the impression that students were working one-on-one with tutors and weren't aware that tutors were in fact handling multiple students at one.[17]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Paper has been featured on Bloomberg News, CNBC, Cheddar, NBC News, The National (CBC) for its role in the education and technology markets.

In 2015, the company was selected by Tourism Montreal as one of the Top 10 Startups In Montreal.[18]

Paper is the winner of many awards including the 2022 Canadian EdTech Company of the Year, 2020 EdTech Award for Best Tutoring Solution. [19]

The company has been labeled one of the fastest-growing companies in North America. It was listed as the 21st fastest-growing company in Canada in 2020.[20]

Paper was selected to the GSV EdTech 150 in 2021 and 2022. The GSV EdTech 150 recognizes the 150 "most transformational growth companies in digital learning". The list highlights companies that are selected based on their impact finding innovative and scalable ways to serve learners around the world.[21]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Juggling kids, Googling for answers: Online tutors say Paper often fails students". Chalkbeat. 17 July 2023. Retrieved 18 July 2023.
  2. ^ "Tutor-by-text service Paper faces growing pains as layoffs follow contract losses, efficacy questions". The Globe and Mail. 7 August 2023. Retrieved 17 August 2023.
  3. ^ "Richmond college readiness platform MajorClarity acquired by Paper". Richmond Business Journal.
  4. ^ "Venture backed Paper buys reading skills platform Readlee". Venture Capital Journal.
  5. ^ "GradeSlam raises $1.6 million seed round". Montrealintechnology.com.
  6. ^ "PAPER: The Leading Educational Support System for Schools". Paper Company Website.
  7. ^ "Essay Review Overview". Paper Helpdesk Essay Review.
  8. ^ "Paper Blog: Equity in Action". Paper Blog.
  9. ^ "From ESSA to American Rescue Plan: How K-12 School Districts Can Use Funding". Paper White Paper.
  10. ^ "GradeSlam: Powering Personalized Learning in Schools and Districts". CIO Bulletin.
  11. ^ "Improving ELA outcomes in Florida: Hillsborough County Public Schools students see gains in reading and writing". Paper Impact Blog.
  12. ^ "PAPER Sees Record Student Engagement Amid COVID-19 School Closures". PR Newswire.
  13. ^ "Bay Area schools providing free, remote 24/7 tutoring for students". ABC7.
  14. ^ "Paper gets $100M worth of venture-backed paper for B2B Edtech". Tech Crunch.
  15. ^ "BOSTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS CHOOSES PAPER TO PROVIDE UNLIMITED, 24/7 TUTORING TO ALL STUDENTS". Boston Public Schools.
  16. ^ "In a swift reversal, New Mexico gives up Paper virtual tutoring". Chalkbeat. 17 March 2023. Retrieved 18 July 2023.
  17. ^ https://www.chalkbeat.org/authors/kalyn-belsha (17 July 2023). "Juggling kids, Googling for answers: Online tutors say Paper often fails students". Chalkbeat. Retrieved 17 August 2023. {{cite web}}: External link in |last= (help)
  18. ^ "10 Montréal startups you need to know about". Tourisme-montreal.org. 29 September 2015. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  19. ^ "PAPER Recognized as Best Tutoring Solution by 2020 EdTech Awards". Paper.co. Retrieved 3 June 2020.
  20. ^ "Canada's Top Growing Companies". The Globe and Mail. 24 September 2021. Retrieved 24 September 2021.
  21. ^ "GSV EdTech 150". ASU GSV Summit. Retrieved 7 February 2022.