Despite a rapid uptick in the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in the classroom, a recent review of individual state education departments’ regulations indicates that the majority of states still do not plan to shape AI-specific strategies or guidance for schools in the 2023-24 school year.
A study by the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) found that out of 51 state departments of education, only two states – California and Oregon – have offered official guidance to school districts on using AI in the classroom this fall.
CRPE’s study shows that 11 states are in the process of developing guidance. The other 21 states that provided details on their approach do not plan to provide guidance on AI for the foreseeable future. The remaining 17 states did not respond to CRPE’s requests.
Guidance that has been published or that is currently in development focuses on ethical and equity implications of AI’s use, recommendations for teachers’ and students’ appropriate use of AI, and emerging best practices to enhance instruction, according to documents reviewed by CRPE. The guidance also explores the potential for AI to improve systemic inequities.
However, guidance in the works from those states does not go as far to provide regulatory direction, the research organization found.
The 11 other education departments that have guidance in progress either plan to provide that official direction later, are providing informal guidance, or have been mandated to develop guidance.
Of the remaining 21 state departments that do not have plans to develop AI guidance, many are ceding responsibility to individual school districts as the ultimate decision-makers on AI policy and approaches.
The report notes that some states are opting to provide resources or technical support for AI topics, but are stopping short of providing guidance. Six departments reference the U.S Department of Education’s May 2023 report on Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Learning, and others are pointing teachers toward resources like Code.org and TeachAI.
In this critical moment of development and deployment of AI tech, states have a responsibility to lead – and lead quickly, CRPE opined.
In the case of states that have failed to provide AI guidance students and teachers in “may be subject to more reactive, divergent, and potentially inequitable impacts, all while generative AI continues to advance at a remarkable pace, hastening and expanding its potential to transform education,” the report says.
“Federal guidance is lagging. The Biden administration’s executive order on AI, released on October 30, directs the federal Department of Education to develop resources, policies and guidance that address AI in education – but not for another year,” the report notes. “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 report concludes. “Waiting for more information or for other agencies to weigh in increases the likelihood that AI’s implementation in schools will be uneven, inequitable, and ineffective. The longer that states wait to provide guidance, the more ground they’ll have to cover when they do – and AI isn’t waiting for anyone.”