RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — A new learning app is providing extra help to Palm Beach County public school students 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The "Paper" app launched this year as a way to help make up for learning losses brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, and was paid for using COVID relief money.
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As Myrlande Luctama teaches eighth grade math at John F. Kennedy Middle School in Riviera Beach, she knows she has an extra teacher in the classroom.
"It has allowed me to get a little bit of relief and allow me to help the students who really need me, while the other students who just need a little push to focus and do their independent work with a little more assistance," Luctama said.
The app through the Paper Education Company offers live, free tutoring 24 hours a day, seven days a week through the School District of Palm Beach County's student portal.
It features several languages and more than 200 subjects for middle and high school students.
"This is amazing. It's a game changer," said Dr. Glenda Sheffield, the school district's chief academic officer.
Sheffield stopped by a John F. Kennedy Middle School classroom Tuesday to talk to students about all the ways they can take advantage of the "Paper" app.
"In the midst of all we have dealt with in the past two years, we thought in regards to what is it that we can do to continue to help our students? And most importantly, mitigating some of the instructional losses," Sheffield said.
Students like Chernell Kerr are using the "Paper" app at school and for homework help, too.
"I needed help with one IXL question, so I used it and it really helped me," Kerr said. "It showed me the steps and didn't tell me the answer. It really explained it to me."
Kerr's teacher can then go back and review the sessions to see what kind of questions students are asking.
"We have a big learning gap that everyone needs to fill with tutoring and the 55 minutes we have in class. It's not always enough," Luctama said.
It's just another tool in the toolbox to support student learning.
"It gives me much more examples and stuff, and it tells me, like, how to do the steps and drives me through the steps and how to use it," Kerr said.
Since the "Paper" app launched in January, Palm Beach County students have logged more than 40,000 tutoring sessions.
The contract between the School District of Palm Beach County and Paper Education Company runs out at the end of the school year, but the district is already planning to renew it to continue this program.
COVID-19 relief money is paying for the app's services.
The Paper Education Company is based in Canada, with tutors ranging from college students and beyond. All of the company's tutors undergo a criminal background check.
Martin County School District students also have access to the app and its tutors. A school district spokeswoman said 4,016 tutoring sessions and 1,251 essays have been reviewed through "Paper" in Martin County.
For more information about the "Paper" app in the School District of Palm Beach County, click here.