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CoSN Unveils Free Tools for AI and Procurement Decisions

The Consortium for School Networking at its annual conference last week announced two free assessment tools for K-12 districts: a questionnaire to assess an ed-tech vendor’s data risks, and a rubric on AI readiness.

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The Consortium of School Networking (CoSN) this month announced a pair of free tools to help K-12 districts incorporate generative artificial intelligence into their classrooms and assess the data security risks of prospective ed-tech partners.

The K-12 Community Vendor Assessment Tool (K-12CVAT), announced in an April 8 news release, is a questionnaire that districts can provide to third-party vendors to learn whether their data and privacy protection measures are sufficient before signing a contract with them. Developed in collaboration with the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), the K-12CVAT contains questions that cover a vendor’s history, including what other districts they have served, their credentials, if they ever experienced a cyber attack, and whether their data ever leaves the United States. The single questionnaire, officials said, creates a standardized risk assessment and procurement process that can work for different departments within a district.

“This initiative underscores our collective commitment to streamlining procurement processes while ensuring educational institutions have access to trusted, comprehensive information,” SETDA Executive Director Julia Fallon said in a public statement. “By leveraging the K-12CVAT, vendors can efficiently communicate the value of their offerings to school districts, ultimately fostering innovation and enhancing learning environments.”

The Gen AI Maturity Tool, which CoSN developed in collaboration with Amazon Web Services and the Council of the Great City Schools (CGCS), contains a series of checklists, rubrics and recommendations that allow education leaders to evaluate how ready their districts are to adopt AI for instructional and operational purposes, according to another news release last week. It asks for information about six essential domains for AI integration: executive leadership, operational, data, technical, security and risk/legal. It then defines the district’s level of maturity — emerging, developing or mature — and includes guidance that corresponds to specific factors and findings.

Both tools, unveiled last week in Miami at CoSN’s annual conference, are available on the organization’s website for free.

CoSN CEO Keith Krueger vouched for the AI maturity assessment as a potential source of guidance in a tumultuous time.

“It provides a strategic roadmap for districts to help school districts agree on their current state of readiness, and then define their desired next level of maturity. We believe this is a powerful tool to help school district leaders,” he said in a public statement.

CGCS Executive Director Ray Hart called the AI maturity assessment tool “groundbreaking.”

“We encourage urban district leaders to use this tool to self-evaluate their Gen AI readiness maturity and develop, implement and improve their policies around the use of AI,” he said in a public statement.

The Council of Great City Schools represents 78 of the nation’s largest urban K-12 districts. That includes 7.6 million students, of whom 72 percent are eligible for free and reduced lunch programs, and 17 percent of whom are still learning English, according to the organization’s website.