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Students in Mississippi will soon have 24/7 access to free online tutoring services in English and math. 

The Mississippi Department of Education signed a $10.7 million contract with Paper, an online tutoring company, to provide live help and writing feedback to 3rd-12th grade students across the state. 121 districts signed up for this opt-in program.  

The program is paid for by the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief fund, and will last through September 2024.

“Like many states across the country, we would like to use our (pandemic relief) funds to mitigate any learning loss that has taken place as a result of the pandemic,” Marla Davis, associate superintendent of academic education, said when presenting the service to the State Board of Education on Feb. 17. 

According to Paper’s website, tutors are college students, PhD candidates, and teachers who can provide assistance in English, Spanish, French, or Mandarin. 

There are no limits on the length of a tutoring session or the number of sessions a student can initiate. The state recommends tutoring sessions three times a week for 30 minutes, a model also known as “high-dosage tutoring,” but it is not a requirement. 

Teachers and administrators will also be able to monitor student activity and progress on the platform, with the goal of helping inform instruction. Davis also said that professional development and technical support will be provided for classroom teachers to help them utilize the platform, which is expected to begin by the end of March.

“We’re honored to take this major step towards educational equity alongside the state of Mississippi,” said Philip Cutler, co-founder and CEO of Paper. “This initiative makes it clear that the state’s highest-ranking education leaders view tutoring as a vital academic resource, and we look forward to partnering with them to create a world-class educational system in the Magnolia State.”

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Julia James is Mississippi Today's poverty and breaking news reporter. A native of Mandeville, Louisiana, James recently completed an investigative reporting internship with Mississippi Today. In that role, she closely covered the sprawling welfare scandal and public education. She will continue that work, as well as working closely with Mississippi Today’s breaking news team. James is a 2021 graduate of the University of Mississippi, where she studied journalism and public policy and was in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. She has been published in The New York Times, Mississippi Today, and Clarion Ledger.