K-12 Dealmaking: Paper to Expand Beyond Tutoring with 2 New Acquisitions

Staff Writer
K-12 Dealmaking, EdWeek Market Brief

Tutoring provider Paper acquired two companies in an effort to expand its offerings beyond virtual one-on-one academic support.

The Montreal-based company, founded in 2014, announced earlier this month a new suite of tools covering math skills, literacy, after-school programming, and college and career readiness — additions supported by the purchase of MajorClarity, a career & college readiness tool, and Readlee, a reading software.

With the acquisition of MajorClarity, the platform will continue to provide students academic planning resources, such as career exploration tools, workforce micro-credentialing, essay reviews, resume builders, and college application management.

The addition of Readlee, which uses AI to identify where students are struggling as they read aloud, targets younger students.

The goal is to work toward integrating all of these tools to “make sure every student has the resources to reach their potential,” said Paper CEO Philip Cutler in an interview.

“About a year ago, we started to hear a lot of feedback from the schools that were saying, ‘We’re really emphasizing our focus on making sure our students are career and college ready.'” Cutler said. “It really became, in my opinion, the No. 1 conversation that was happening at the superintendent level… are we actually preparing our children for the workforce and the jobs of the future?”

Founded in 2014, Paper scaled quickly amid a surge in demand for academic intervention solutions following the pandemic — reporting to have doubled the number of students it served to 2 million by February 2022.

Cutler hinted at the expansion after the startup raised $270 million in a Series D funding round early last year, saying at the time the money would be used for “more and more innovative school systems to level the playing field for all learners.”

The company now describes itself as an on-demand educational support system provider.

“The purpose of schools, really, from the moment a child walks into kindergarten and starts to learn to read, through graduation, is to prepare students for life after school,” Cutler said. “That’s really what we’re trying to do.”

Early childhood education provider expands Southeast. Cadence Education has acquired The Suzuki School, a Montessori school in Atlanta, and the Montessori Teacher Education Institute, which provides teacher training.

The acquisition of Suzuki School will expand the early childhood education provider’s presence in the Southeast, adding three new campus locations in Atlanta. And the addition of MTEI will provide a hub and increase its training for Montessori educators, according to the announcement.

“This acquisition demonstrates our unwavering commitment to high-quality Montessori education, expands our offerings in Atlanta, and reinforces our dedication to diversity and inclusion with a brand that prioritizes culturally responsive teaching practices.” Cadence Education CEO Leigh-Ellen Louie said in a statement.

Cadence Education has acquired 14 of its 22 Montessori schools in the past two years, and reports a total of 300 private preschools and elementary schools nationwide in its portfolio.

Terms of both deals were not disclosed.

Assistive technology provider raises $1.5 million. Tactile Engineering, a provider of educational technology that assists people with blindness and low vision, completed a $1.5 million funding round, the company announced.

The round included a $250,000 investment from Purdue Ventures, a firm that supports Purdue University-connected startups. The round also had participation from Elevate Ventures, Queen City Angels, and private individuals.

Tactile Engineering offers a tactile tablet that allows readers to access up to eight lines of electronic Braille, as well as web-based tools that enable remote calibration. The tool can be used as an e-reader, graphing calculator, and image viewer.

The new funding will support additional applications currently in development, including a web browser and classroom aids, according to Purdue Ventures.

“Although advances in voice control and speech synthesis might seem to offer a solution to workplace accessibility, such tools cannot provide access to mathematics, technical content or graphics, all of which are vital for equal-opportunity STEM education and employment,” Tactile Engineering CEO Dave Schleppenbach said in a statement. “The goal of providing this access drives everything we do.”

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