IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Research Center Advises States: AI Isn’t Waiting for Anyone

The Center on Reinventing Public Education found just two states have provided official guidance to schools about artificial intelligence so far, and states that delay or decline doing this might face more problems.

A robot standing in front of a chalkboard completing complex math problems.
Most U.S. states have yet to provide guidance on appropriate use, evaluations or best practices for artificial intelligence in the classroom.

According to a brief report released today, the nonprofit research organization Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) at Arizona State University reached out to education departments in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., and found only California and Oregon had published official guidance on school AI before the start of the 2023-2024 academic year. Eleven states said they were “in the process of developing guidance,” 21 states noted that they have no plans to provide guidance, and 17 did not reply to the agency’s request for information.

“While generative AI rapidly advances,” the report said, “many states continue to defer to districts to decide what to do in their schools.”

According to Oregon’s 11-page “Generative AI in K-12 Classrooms” guide, which is cited in CRPE’s report, the Beaver State provides AI guidance that addresses equity and privacy implications for students while also offering instructional strategies for teachers.

“What is equally important is for schools and districts to reflect on the larger digital learning ecosystem in order to ensure that generative AI platforms, if used, are done so in culturally responsive and sustaining ways and supported by strong professional development for teachers, transparent communication with families and the larger school community, and education for students,” the Oregon guidance says.

The California guidance, “Learning with AI, Learning about AI,” published in September, is a 19-page document that addresses equity, privacy and ethical-use policies while also calling on educators to build an understanding of how AI works.

“As educators and students build an understanding of how data collection feeds AI outputs, educators and students become ethical technology users and potential creators who prioritize fairness, accountability, and transparency,” the California guidance said.

CRPE noted that the Connecticut State Department of Education, which is among the 11 that are in the process of developing guidance, has committed to engaging teachers unions, superintendent groups and school leaders to discuss possible new policies.

Of the state education departments that have no plans to provide AI guidance to districts, Iowa, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming cited “local accountability policies in lieu of providing guidance,” according to CRPE’s report.

CRPE’s report is a summary of its research study. The full document containing all responses from each state was not released.

The agency advocates more state and federal guidance — sooner than later.

“Federal guidance is lagging,” the report said. “The Biden administration’s executive order on AI, released on Oct. 30, directs the federal Department of Education to develop resources, policies and guidance that address AI in education — but not for another year. At best, the Department of Education will release an ‘AI toolkit’ sometime this spring. This means that many schools will have to feel their own way in the dark around effective AI practices for the 2023-24 school year, outside of any local efforts to step up. States must use this moment to steward collective action and encourage responsible decisions. They possess a unique power — to convene and drive coherence across schools — and this role is especially critical now.”

“The longer that states wait to provide guidance,” the report concluded, “the more ground they’ll have to cover when they do — and AI isn’t waiting for anyone.”