CALDWELL, Texas — The coronavirus pandemic has caused significant learning loss in students across the United States, with teachers striving to make up for lost time.
Just like schools all across the country, Caldwell ISD students have felt the sting of the pandemic.
In early October the district invested in a virtual learning tool that’s already helping hundreds of Caldwell kids complete assignments every night: Paper ( the website, not the writing material).
“I use it at night a lot because I play volleyball," said Kierstyn Macik, a 7th-grade student. "... And I normally get home at like, 8 to 9 o’clock. And if my parents are asleep, I just get on (Paper) and the (tutors) help me through the processes.”
Macik said she uses the website every night to help with her math and English homework. Just like all her peers, she’s able to use her school-issued Chromebook to video chat with a professional tutor, instantly, at any time.
“Fortunately here our test scores were really good this last year, but we are still seeing gaps that we’re trying to fix," said Shaunna Savage, principal of Caldwell Junior High. "And there’s only so many hours in the school day, so we try and do what we can.”
The district paid for a two-year contract with Paper, according to the company's CEO, which allows this one-on-one virtual tutoring to all Caldwell students from 4th to 12th grade. Tutors are vetted adults, mostly comprised of graduate students.
Tutors will go over homework, help study for tests, and review drafts of papers. And all Caldwell teachers have full access to these interactions.
"That’s been really good because teachers can look to see what is the most asked question," Savage said. "Did we have a lot of students go in on this particular concept? Maybe I need to hit it again in class.”
Within the junior high, over 150 students have already been using the site, Savage said.
It’s already doing a world of difference for students like Macik, who shared that when she had homework problems before, her only resource was a Google search.
"(Tutors) walk me through it instead of just (answers) being there," Macik said. "And I like actually knowing what I’m doing instead of just copying it down.”