Jan 3, 2024 - News

How California schools can bring AI into classrooms

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

California is just one of two states to issue policy guidance for K-12 schools on artificial intelligence platforms such as ChatGPT, a recent report found.

Why it matters: Teachers and administrators are eager for guidelines to use AI — and how to quash misuse. But the field is moving so rapidly that governments have been loath to issue pronouncements.

Driving the news: The Center on Reinventing Public Education, a nonpartisan research center at Arizona State University, asked each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia to share their approach to AI guidance.

  • Only California and Oregon offered official recommendations for the current school year.
  • 11 states are currently developing guidance: Arizona, Connecticut, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont and Washington.
  • 21 said they didn't plan to offer guidance for the foreseeable future, and 17 didn't respond.

Zoom in: The California Department of Education suggests AI can enhance learning, while acknowledging potential ethics, bias, inaccuracy or data privacy risks.

  • It outlines why and how California schools can utilize AI, including developing planning and workflow tools for teachers and personalized learning materials for students with varying abilities or language barriers.
  • Students can also create and program AI themselves if schools incorporate "5 Big Ideas in AI" and computer science standards into their curriculum.
  • That could improve access to STEM fields for traditionally underrepresented groups and help students develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills, per the department.

Yes, but: The department also advised local education agencies to evaluate concerns and processes around security, data privacy and retention when implementing AI systems.

What we're watching: San Diego Unified School District did not provide any details about integrating AI into curriculums and local classrooms.

The bottom line: AI is developing faster than school districts — let alone industry and government — can establish training programs and rules — and while state guidelines may prove helpful, they're not likely to be the final word.

  • "We are hearing from our superintendents that it is a huge, ongoing, and constantly evolving conversation," Noelle Ellerson Ng, associate executive director, advocacy and government for AASA, the School Superintendents Association, told Axios.

Go deeper: How states are guiding schools to think about AI

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