Pioneering the Future of Learning

Developing Guidelines for AI Use in K–12 Education

The integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into K–12 classrooms is rapidly transforming the educational landscape. It is a primary topic being discussed at every educational conference across the country, at all levels of the educational system, and in state-level policy discussions. As AI technologies become more pervasive, school districts across the country are faced with the challenge of responsibly harnessing their potential. To address this, school administrations and state policymakers are scrambling to develop comprehensive guidelines that ensure AI tools are used effectively and ethically in all classrooms.

The Need for AI Guidelines in Schools

AI offers numerous benefits in education, including personalized learning, automation of administrative tasks, and access to a vast array of educational resources that can adapt to the needs of individual students. However, these advantages also come with challenges, such as data privacy concerns, the potential for bias in AI algorithms, and the need for both students and teachers to acquire and develop new skills to effectively interact with these technologies. School districts are quickly recognizing the importance of establishing clear, robust guidelines that not only foster innovation but also protect students and ensure educational equity.

Developing AI Guidelines: Key Considerations

  • Ethical Use of AI: Guidelines are being crafted to address ethical considerations, focusing on transparency, fairness, and accountability in AI applications. This includes ensuring that AI tools do not perpetuate biases or inequalities and that their use aligns with the overall educational goals of fairness and inclusivity.
  • Data Privacy and Security: With AI systems processing vast amounts of personal data, guidelines are crucial to protect student privacy and secure sensitive information. Districts are working to comply with existing data protection laws and developing additional policies specific to AI use in schools.
  • Curriculum Integration: Districts are exploring how AI can be integrated into the curriculum not just as a tool, but as a subject of study itself. Guidelines are being set on how to incorporate AI education in a way that enhances students’ understanding of technology, ethics, and the digital world.
  • Teacher Training and Support: Recognizing that the effective use of AI requires skilled educators, guidelines include provisions for professional development. Training programs are being designed to help teachers understand and utilize AI tools, as well as to critically assess the implications of AI in education.
  • Equitable Access: To avoid deepening the digital divide, guidelines emphasize the importance of providing equitable access to AI technologies. This includes ensuring that all students, regardless of their socio-economic background, have the necessary resources and support to benefit from AI-enhanced learning.

AI Policy Examples

The rush is on to establish policies and guidelines around the use of AI in K–12 classrooms. From forward-thinking school districts to state-level policy endeavors, pioneering efforts are being made to craft guidelines that address ethical concerns, data privacy, and educational equity. Here are some examples that showcase the innovative approaches being made to integrate AI into curricula and administrative processes. These proactive efforts not only aim to leverage AI for educational benefits but also to prepare students for a future where digital literacy is a critical skill.

  • New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE): Recognizing the potential of AI to enhance educational outcomes, NYC DOE has developed a framework as part of a broader NYC government plan for the use of AI. Their plan includes guidelines for selecting AI tools based on educational value, user friendliness, and compliance with student data privacy laws. They are also pioneering an AI ethics course for high school students, aiming to educate them about the potential biases and ethical dilemmas associated with AI technologies. The NYC framework is the first of its kind for a major city.
  • California: California has been advancing guidelines that assist teachers and school leaders with best practices for using AI in the classroom. These guidelines are not official policy but serve as a resource to promote safe and effective use of AI technologies in educational settings​.
  • Washington State: Washington has developed comprehensive, human-centered AI guidelines for K–12 education. Their approach emphasizes a philosophy that prioritizes the needs and abilities of students, educators, and administrators. They have established an AI advisory group to help guide school district administrators, educators, students, and families on AI integration. This group collaborates with various educational organizations to develop policies, resources, and implementation strategies. They also focus on professional development opportunities for educators and align AI use with curriculum standards.
  • Seattle Public Schools (SPS): The Seattle Public School District has created a set of AI tools for use by students and staff that was implemented and is monitored by an AI review committee that includes educators, IT professionals, and parent representatives. The committee evaluates AI applications for educational use and makes recommendations based on the tool’s effectiveness and adherence to ethical standards.
  • Fairfax County Public Schools, Virginia: Fairfax County has taken a proactive approach to evaluating AI tools through the establishment of a dedicated task force. This task force, composed of educators, administrators, and technology experts, is charged with assessing AI technologies before their integration into classrooms. Their evaluation focuses on the educational benefits, potential biases, and alignment with district-wide goals of inclusivity and equity. The guidelines also include provisions for ongoing training for teachers to effectively utilize AI tools, ensuring that these technologies serve as aids in education rather than as replacements for traditional teaching methods.
  • Chicago Public Schools (CPS): CPS has launched a pilot project that integrates AI tutors into math classrooms. The guidelines for this project require that these AI systems be used as supplemental tools rather than replacements for human interaction. They also mandate regular assessment reports to evaluate the impact of these AI tutors on student performance and engagement.
  • Oregon: Oregon has released guidelines that focus on the use of generative AI in classrooms. Their resources aim to help educators understand AI technologies and integrate them into teaching and learning processes. Their guidelines cover various aspects of AI use, including the creation of digital content like text and images, and address the potential benefits and challenges associated with AI in education.
  • Gwinnett County School District, Georgia: The Gwinnett County School District is actively integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI) into its educational framework beginning in kindergarten to prepare students for future technological landscapes. One of Gwinnett County’s flagship initiatives is the introduction of Seckinger High School, which focuses on a curriculum that includes AI development, ensuring students are “future ready.” This involves practical training in AI alongside other technological and engineering skills, supported by state-of-the-art facilities like labs equipped for working with wood, metal, and 3D printers.

These examples illustrate how districts are not only focusing on the ethical and safe use of AI but are also innovating in how these tools are integrated into the educational experience. By doing so, they are setting a precedent for how educational institutions can responsibly embrace cutting-edge technologies to enhance learning and teaching outcomes.

The Road Ahead

As AI continues to evolve, so too will the guidelines governing its use in education. It is crucial that these guidelines remain flexible and adaptive, capable of evolving with technological advancements and changing educational needs. The goal is not only to protect students but also to empower them, preparing a new generation for a future where AI is ubiquitous.

The proactive steps being taken to craft AI usage guidelines reflect a commitment to responsible innovation. By setting these frameworks, they are not only enhancing educational outcomes but also ensuring that the integration of AI into K–12 education is conducted ethically, securely, and equitably. Moving forward, these guidelines will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of education in an AI-driven world.