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How School Districts Are Navigating AI

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There’s no way around it–artificial intelligence is here, and it’s here to stay. As such, districts are looking for ways to navigate this new reality of schooling. While it’s the instinct of many leaders to fight it, there are many who are trying to find ways to work with AI instead. Whether you’re on the fence, still 100% anti-AI, or open to learning more, there’s an urgent need for a solution to the AI problem in your district. Here are a few things to consider as you make your plan. 


How Districts Are Responding to AI  

When ChatGPT launched in November of 2022, many school districts across the United States put an absolute ban on the software and invested in AI detection programs to enforce it. In 2023, districts like New York City Public Schools decided to go back and lift those bans. Some are even training their staff in ChatGPT to use it for their own classrooms and curriculum, eventually planning to teach their students about AI literacy. 

 Now, in 2024, there’s a plethora of educational AI tools that teachers are using, from adaptive learning platforms to chatbots for student support. As many as 60% of teachers are already using AI in their classroom, with educational AI games leading the trend. Still, the main concern for students remains that they’ll rely too much on generative AI and submit plagiarized work. 

However, school districts are struggling to create clear AI policies. Education Week reports that 79% of teachers say their districts have not made their stance clear, leaving the topic of AI up to individual teachers. This causes a massive discrepancy: one teacher can outright ban AI in their classroom, while another in the same school can create comprehensive curriculum around the ethics and functions of AI.


Bringing AI to Schools: Tips for School Leaders – A Guide 

Richard Culatta, CEO of International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) recently wrote and published a guide on AI in collaboration with AASA, The School Superintendents Association. The guide details what AI is and is not, which will serve as a comforting reminder to educators that AI isn’t replacing them–it’s not even capable of doing so.  


The guide also outlines a strategy for success when it comes to integrating AI into schools, such as exploring different AI programs, training staff on AI trends, and establishing standards when using these programs. ISTE suggests the following standards: 

  • Forster ethical AI use and digital citizenship 
  • Promote computational thinking 
  • Collaboration and interdisciplinary learning 
  • Integrate AI into the curriculum  


Finally, it lists a helpful FAQ that should ease the mind of any prospective (but concerned) district leader. While it warns against an outright ban of AI, it assures leaders that with the right approach, AI can be an effective tool to leverage in the education sphere.  


Resources and Further Reading 

Implementing AI into your school district is no easy feat, especially since the technology is evolving faster than anyone can keep up. And to make matters more complicated, everyone has a different opinion on it. Here are more resources for you to check out as you navigate the world of AI: 


  • EducationWeek gives examples of how teachers are using AI in their classrooms, which is great for inspiration! 
  • FinalSite breaks down what district leaders should consider when developing their AI plan 
  • eLearning Industry outlines the pros, the cons, and best practices for districts  

Originally posted 2023

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