Putting Districts in the AI Driver’s Seat
Commentary authors
Pat Yongpradit
Glenn Kleiman

Artificial intelligence (AI) encompasses a broad set of tools developed to perform tasks that have historically required human intelligence. The new generative AI tools, such as ChatGPT, are not programmed with a specific set of instructions; rather, they are trained on sets of data and algorithms that guide how they respond to prompts. We are increasingly using a range of AI tools—such as autopopulate suggestions, navigation systems, facial recognition on phones, and ChatGPT—in many aspects of our lives. Because of the prevalence and power of these tools, their rapid development, and their potential to be truly disruptive—in positive and negative ways—it is critical that school districts develop policies, guidelines, and supports for the productive use of AI in schools. Later in this commentary, we discuss many of the short-term positives and negatives of using AI in schools. The greatest impact of AI, however, is how it can transform teachers’ roles and student learning.

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During the 2022–23 school year, artificial intelligence (AI) evolved from an experimental technology few had heard of into readily available technology that has become widely used by educators and students. There are many ways educators can use AI that may positively revolutionize education to benefit classroom instruction, to support data use and analysis, and to aid in decision-making. The biggest potential upsides of AI for education will be accompanied by major disruptions, however, and districts will need time for thoughtful consideration to avoid some of the worst possible pitfalls. This commentary focuses not on how best to harness the potential of AI in education over the long term but instead on the urgent need for districts to respond to student use of AI. We argue that during summer 2023, districts should adopt policies for the 2023–24 school year that help students to engage with AI in productive ways and decrease the risk of AI-related chaos due to society’s inability to detect inappropriate AI use.

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