Paper Education Company provides tutoring for all OPUSD students

Free, online platform covers 200 subjects and writing help

Paper on paper: Flyer in Ms. McCranie’s classroom advertises and its services.

Paper Education Company is providing free, online tutoring services 24/7 to Oak Park Unified School District students from June 1, 2021 to Aug. 1, 2022. The online platform allows students from Kindergarten to 12th grade to access tutors for any topic associated with courses they are registered for in school.

According to Paper, tutors use the Socratic method to help students with their questions, “ask[ing] students guiding questions to solidify fundamental concepts and promote long-term academic success.” The company offers services for 200 topics in four different languages, and also offers writing feedback for essays, lab reports and other writing assignments. Teachers have visibility to students’ sessions to see which students are seeking help and in what subject areas.

Principal Mat McClenahan has experience working with Paper from his previous job at High Tech Los Angeles Charter School. He stated that Paper was “really, really helpful” to students who used it regularly, especially for those who were behind the pace of the classroom or wanted to receive feedback for assignments, including essays and homework, earlier than the deadline or next class. At Oak Park High School — where students do not receive instruction on the same topic every day because of block scheduling — he hopes that Paper and their tutoring methods will help students increase their mastery, decrease their anxiety and encourage class engagement.

“[The tutors are] going to say, ‘What do you see? Tell me what you have so that I can then give you guidance.’ That now is a dialogue between student and tutor that leads to mastery that leads to understanding,” McClenahan said.

While supportive of accessible tutoring services, math teacher Robin Midiri expressed worries about how students would take advantage of Paper’s availability.

“To be completely honest, I’m very concerned about the idea that it is being offered 24/7,” Midiri said. “We all need our sleep and the idea of making something available to students at 2 in the morning or 3 in the morning is a huge concern to me.”

Senior Rachel Kang has used Paper’s services multiple times for her statistics and calculus homework and noted some advantages and disadvantages of the service.

“My homework was different than ‘normal statistical problems’ because it involved simulations. I had to use two different tutors and I am still not sure if I got it right. However, they have helped me with my calc homework numerous times, which is a much easier process than my stat[istic]s homework,” Kang wrote to the Talon.

As faculty and students adjust to returning from more than a year of distance and hybrid learning, the OPUSD Board of Education hopes that Paper will help smooth this transition by providing “equitable access to academic support.” McClenahan also recognizes there will be a period of time needed to adjust to this new platform.

“I think that students and teachers have to give it a chance,” McClenahan said. “Anytime there’s something new, there’s a learning curve, so you have to work your way through it.”