The pandemic has been especially difficult for schools, causing sporadic closures and staff shortages. Not surprisingly, all this has taken a toll on students’ literacy rates.
A 2022 study by the Brookings Institution found that reading tests scored lower than usual, and that test gaps between low-poverty and high-poverty elementary schools grew by 15 percent. Data gathered by the National Assessment of Educational Progress shows that 2022 reading scores for fourth- and eighth-graders in the United States (US) had dipped by three points since 2019, the lowest average since 1992.
“Research-backed technology and repeated practice are the keys to addressing the mounting literacy crisis.”
Amid what many are calling a continuing literacy crisis, Montréal-based Paper has acquired Readlee, a literacy tool developed by Harvard researchers and masters teachers. As part of this acquisition, Readlee will become Paper Reading, and the tool will be integrated into Paper’s Educational Support System (ESS).
“US students face a literacy crisis partly driven by pandemic-related learning losses,” said Steve Askar, co-founder of Readlee and Paper’s head of literacy. “Getting effective reading tools into the hands of students is a critical step to address the issue.”
Paper Reading uses artificial intelligence and speech recognition to help boost students’ reading skills. The tool monitors users while they read out loud, then provides immediate feedback to teachers so they can track their students’ progress and focus on areas that need improvement. It’s helpful for teachers with large classrooms to manage, and reading aloud has been shown to improve memory, vocabulary, and confidence.
Paper Reading will complement the ESS suite, which already includes virtual one-on-one tutoring, a Review Center for writing assignments, a math gamification tool called Paper Missions, and the recently acquired MajorClarity for post-secondary planning.
“Improving literacy proficiency is an essential component of our mission, and we believe research-backed technology and repeated practice are the keys to addressing the mounting literacy crisis,” said Philip Cutler, co-founder and CEO of Paper.
Paper was founded in 2014 by Cutler and Roberto Cipriani. An educator at the time, Cutler noticed an “equity gap” in how students learned, with wealthier students often outperforming others because they could afford tutoring services. He and Cipriani created Paper to provide accessible tutoring and homework support to help students from any background. Today, Paper claims to support over three million students in over 300 schools across Canada and the US.
Featured image courtesy Unsplash.