- Two and a half months into a contract with virtual tutoring company Paper Education America Inc., the New Mexico Public Education Department has terminated its program with the personalized learning and academic enrichment company, according to a recent letter from New Mexico Interim Secretary of Education Mariana Padilla to the company, obtained by Chalkbeat.
- Since the state began its nearly $3.3 million contract with Paper to offer 1:1 online tutoring services, Padilla said, “the pacing of enrollment and student engagement has not met the [Public Education Department]’s expectations.” Paper did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.
- Padilla wrote that “it is clear” Paper’s services were not showing results through engagement, support or delivery of services to students. Paper’s virtual tutoring services were offered exclusively to students in the state’s Title I schools, including those in tribally controlled areas.
Paper’s abrupt contract termination with the company comes as the state works to help students recover from pandemic-related learning loss.
In fact, on Thursday New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed into law House Bill 130, which requires an increase in minimum instructional hours in public schools to 1,140 hours per year.
The department said it used federal COVID-19 relief funds for the statewide virtual tutoring initiative with Paper, which offered up to 20 hours of virtual tutoring to pre-K-8 students at no cost to their families.
A recent report from the Council of Chief State School Officers found that while federal COVID-19 relief dollars are helping states expand high-quality tutoring initiatives, there have been difficulties regarding both quality and scalability. The analysis said states have dedicated $4.2 billion of these funds for tutoring and accelerated learning, of which $1.1 billion has been put toward digital equity and remote learning opportunities.
Paper works with more than 3 million students across roughly 300 districts, according to the company’s website, and has recently established statewide partnerships with Tennessee and Mississippi.
Large-scale tutoring efforts can vary between in-person and online approaches, though virtual tutoring may draw in district and state appeal because it is often more affordable than in-person services.
A study analyzing an online tutoring pilot run by nonprofit CovEd during spring 2021 in Illinois found the virtual tutoring program produced less significant results than an in-person model. But if given more tutoring hours, the study said, online tutoring could be more effective.
Clarification: This story was updated with additional details on the letter to Paper from New Mexico Interim Secretary of Education Mariana Padilla.