AI in Wash. schools: Reykdal introduces statewide ‘human-centered use’

Jan 22, 2024, 3:53 PM

AI WA school...

A student from Brinnon Elementary School holds up a watercolor sheet that their teacher designed using AI, which the student then painted. (Photo courtesy of the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction)

(Photo courtesy of the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction)

Washington became one of the first states in the nation to publish a state-level guidance on AI use in its public schools after the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) released a “roadmap” on how public schools can implement artificial intelligence (AI).

Rather than banning the use of AI and other artificial chatbots, OSPI wants to urge “thoughtful, human-centered use” of these tools, according to the published guideline.

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“Our commitment is not just to integrate AI into the classroom,” Washington State Superintendent Chris Reykdal said in his opening message in the guidance. “It’s to do so with a vision that places our educators and students at the center of this digital revolution with a priority for human inquiry that uses AI for production, but never as the final thought, product or paper.”

Reykdal stated the AI policy would be a “human to AI to human” approach — beginning with human inquiry, then applying AI tools and lastly have someone evaluate and edit the results — expanding the possibilities of AI beyond a school’s fears of it only being just a means for increased plagiarism and cheating.

The document includes suggested uses of the technology, including creating lesson plans and tests, translating learning materials into multiple languages and developing personalized teaching materials. Reykdal even pitched that AI could aid and support student creativity, help students develop critical thinking and automate certain administrative activities.

“AI is here and slowing down isn’t an option,” Reykdal wrote.

However, AI poses several risks when entering public schools. In the guideline, Reykdal stated AI has the ability to increase or create inequitable learning environments, allowing unauthorized access to protected user information and could perpetuate institutional and systemic biases. Plagiarism, academic dishonesty and the over-reliance on technology could all hinder children in a learning environment.

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“Incorporating AI into our educational system is about more than technology; it’s about preparing our students for a future where digital literacy is key,” Trevor Greene, Ph.D., the superintendent of the Yakima School District, said. “Our focus remains steadfast on ensuring that every student benefits from these advancements while upholding the highest standards of safety and ethical use.”

More on AI’s use in schools across the nation

California and Oregon were the only two states to respond to The Center on Reinventing Public Education’s (CPRE) official recommendations regarding AI, the organization reported late last year. Washington was one of 11 states preparing policy guidance for K-12 schools on AI when the report came out. States such as New York, Arizona, Nevada, Ohio and Pennsylvania are said to be preparing their own guidance.

The CPRE is a nonpartisan research center at Arizona State University that asked states for their approach regarding AI at the start of the school year. Seventeen states did not respond to CPRE’s request.

According to recent reports, West Virginia and North Carolina also released guidance reports this month.

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AI in Wash. schools: Reykdal introduces statewide ‘human-centered use’