Common themes emerge among states’ guidance on AI in education

Digital Promise reviewed guidance documents from seven states, including California, on how to approach artificial intelligence (AI) in education.

Guidance from these states — which also include North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia — “vary considerably and yet all respond to a common need: educators need central guidance about AI,” researchers wrote.

The guidance documents have similar themes; describe similar opportunities and risks as well as needs for policies, including acceptable use policies, procurement policies, academic integrity policies and data privacy and security policies; and seek to guide policy development, a report from Digital Promise states.

Educators have been asking for guidance, researchers noted, and “these are a great starting point for an exploratory phase of AI in education.”

Seven common themes

The following seven major themes were found across most of the guidance documents reviewed:

  1. Evolving workforce needs: The documents discuss the changing economy, how AI will be necessary for jobs and how students will need to use AI in their future work.
  2. Human-centered, responsible use of AI: All documents take a human-centered perspective and emphasize the importance of responsible use of AI tools, discussing the need for policies and guidelines to ensure AI is used ethically, safely and for the benefit of students. Each promotes an approach in which AI is used as a tool to augment human capabilities rather than replacing them.
  3. AI literacy and professional development: The documents highlight the significance of AI literacy among students, educators and community members while calling for professional development opportunities to equip educators with the skills and knowledge to effectively integrate AI into teaching and learning, and for building students’ AI literacy. For instance, California’s guidance states that “AI literacy is foundational for a well-rounded education to prepare students for today and tomorrow.”
  4. Equity and inclusion: Many of the documents emphasize the need to address equity and inclusion concerns related to AI use in education. The importance of ensuring AI tools are accessible to all students, regardless of their background or abilities, are included, as are a variety of inclusive design practices.
  5. Data privacy, security and safety: Despite the differences among states, all of the documents address the importance of protecting student data privacy and ensuring the security of personal information used by AI systems, as well as the need for robust data governance and cybersecurity measures to mitigate potential risks. Most also discuss plagiarism.
  6. Pedagogical considerations: Pedagogical considerations for integrating AI into the classroom, such as how AI can be used to enhance teaching and learning, promote critical thinking and foster creativity, are discussed. Guidance calls for evidence that selected AI tools will improve student learning outcomes.
  7. Computer science education: Some of the documents discuss the importance and role of computer science education. Researchers point to California’s guidance as an example, which states, “Educational leaders are encouraged to provide access to computer science education for all K-12 students so that students learn about AI equitably. As educators and students demystify AI systems, as they see past the perceived ‘magic’ of these technologies and deconstruct them to build a conceptual understanding of their inner workings, they are better able to engage as responsible, ethical citizens of emerging technologies.”

Digital Promise also summarizes the ways that these guidance documents explore potential benefits of AI in education (e.g. personalizing learning and feedback on assignments, lesson plan development, translation services and more) and potential risks (e.g. bias and inaccuracy, data privacy and security, plagiarism, overreliance on technology and more).

Read the report here.

Hungry for more guidance? Read CSBA’s brief “Understanding Artificial Intelligence in K-12 Education: What Governance Teams Should Know” to learn about the basics of AI, policy implications of AI use, the tech’s potential impacts on education for students, teachers and staff and more here: