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Washington State Superintendent Updates Guidance on AI

Following the rollout of its guidelines for AI use in K-12 in January, Washington state's latest version provides updated resources such as policy suggestions, practical implementations, terms and FAQs.

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(TNS) — The widespread use of artificial intelligence is rapidly changing the classroom experience for students and teachers across Washington state. As educators find themselves at the forefront of this technological revolution, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction has released guidance and resources intended to adopt responsible use of AI, according to an OSPI press release.

"We already know that possibly tens of thousands of students and educators are using AI both in and out of the classroom," State Superintendent Chris Reykdal said. "We now get to put some shape and definition around this usage by embracing it with a human-centered approach."

Fifth in the nation to release research-informed AI guidance and first to focus on a human-centered approach, OSPI's guidance embraces a human-centered philosophy that puts the needs and abilities of students, educators, and administrators at the center of AI implementation, according to the statement. The second edition of the Human-Centered AI Guidance for K-12 Public Schools provides updated resources such as policy suggestions, practical implementations, terms, and FAQs.

The current review of learning standards for English language arts (ELA), mathematics, and science will also allow for AI to be integrated throughout K-12 curriculum.

"This comes at an interesting time when we are rewriting our learning standards, so we can ensure that students are ready to work with AI and it is not just an afterthought," Reykdal said. "We can think more critically about institutional policies and guidelines and, look more closely at the tools teachers and students are using in the classroom."


OSPI established an AI advisory group to develop policies and resources to guide school district administrators, educators, students and families. Members work closely with organizations such as the Washington State School Directors' Association to create protocols and respond to district requests. Digital learning and technology leaders at schools also weigh in on implementation strategies and convey the needs of specific school communities to the group.

"We have people on the team who are passionate about student data security and teacher preparation programs, and we also have a student on the committee who is very passionate to make sure that this isn't stepping on his rights as a student," Jeff Utecht, independent educational technology consultant and co-facilitator of the advisory group, said in the release.

The process OSPI is following involves iterative development, with a deliberate emphasis on stakeholder input. Initially, OSPI prioritized providing comprehensive guidance aligned with an AI educational vision and philosophy. Now, the focus shifts to practical support and implementation resources. These resources include a leader checklist, FAQs, classroom and student considerations with sample policies, and ethical frameworks, all aimed at fostering meaningful discussions across classrooms and districts. Work is also underway to develop support for educators' professional learning.

"We already have these ethical underlying agreements around how students learn and how we teach in the state," Bre Urness-Straight, director of educational technology at OSPI said. "So, we're collaborating and working with a diverse group of experts to really address and understand what the specific needs of our key stakeholders are."

OSPI, in collaboration with Washington's Association of Educational Service Districts, will organize spring events offering professional development for educators and school leaders, the statement said. These events receive support from Microsoft Philanthropies and the Northwest Council for Computer Education, which provides technology-focused learning opportunities for educational communities.

A train-the-trainer session on March 20 and 21 helped guide coordinators and staff on using AI across various platforms and devices, with additional sessions planned for educators, schools, and districts in the coming months, the release said. A statewide summit will see agencies and school district leaders convene on AI implementation strategies later this fall.


Educators and researchers are developing AI implementation in K-12 education. Experts from the University of Washington's Information School, as well as the computer science and education departments, have lent their expertise in machine learning research and AI application development to shape guidance that will quickly adapt to new findings and policies.

"Right now, teachers are using AI tools built for general purposes, but this technology can evolve so that there are tools for different subject areas or even different grade levels," Dr. Min Sun, professor of education policy at the University of Washington, wrote in the statement. "We need to look at how to involve educators and students in a way that they are centered in the development process for these tools, both in terms of the interface design and the algorithm that takes their inputs."

Sun emphasized that as educators start using AI tools in the classrooms, researchers are eager to track the effect of AI on student outcomes and give teachers the tools to do so as well, according to the statement. Data from these trials will help provide more equitable guidance at a faster pace, which might differ based on school district needs, teacher qualifications, or student demographics.

"As we all traverse this new and constantly changing landscape of AI, it will be important to collaborate across different education sectors — to assess the risks and explore the opportunities for both teachers and students," Jevin West, associate professor in the Information School at the University of Washington, said in the release.

©2024 the Columbia Basin Herald, Wash. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.