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Nevada Department of Education Forges K-12 AI Policy

Education leaders in Nevada are developing guidelines for classroom use of artificial intelligence, based on input from administrators, educators, students, families and community members around the state.

The state Department of Education began a series of town hall meetings and online surveys March 26-29 in Clark County, home to the largest school district in Nevada and the city of Las Vegas. Officials held a meeting in Humboldt County Wednesday and additional town halls are set for next Wednesday in Carson City and May 1 and 15 in Washoe County. A virtual statewide meeting will be held May 2, Julie Wootton-Greener, Nevada Department of Education public information officer, said via email.

Based on input from those meetings, a statewide AI “ethical statement” for Nevada’s 500,000 pre-K-12 students and 30,000 educators is expected to be in place by late June, according to the news release.

“About once a generation, a technological innovation explodes on the scene, disrupts our worldview, and alters how we live, work, and play,” Jhone Ebert, Nevada superintendent of public instruction, said in a public statement. “For instance, when personal computers burst on the scene, they transformed how we access and process information. Today, the most recent advance to our world is artificial intelligence.”

“Students of today need a grasp of artificial intelligence,” Ebert added. “This set of policies will provide the guardrails that guide how AI is treated within schools across our state.”

The state Department of Education formed a task force, the “Nevada AI Alliance,” in January to conduct focus group sessions, develop an AI ethics statement, provide guidance and resources for all grade levels, and to plan an international conference on AI in education.

A memo from the Nevada Department of Education provided to Government Technology said guidance on enhancing learning environments and integrating AI into curriculum is expected to be in place before the start of the 2024-2025 academic year. The state is also expected to offer support around researching data related to AI use in K-12 education; and on collaborating with state, national, and international partners to establish best practices and ethical standards for classroom AI use.

“All students graduate future-ready and globally prepared for post-secondary success and civic life,” the memo said.

During the Clark County town halls, concerns voiced included whether the available bandwidth would support new technology; Internet access in rural areas; biases in AI-generated content; and the importance of balancing AI use and human learning, Wootton-Greener said.

Nevada would be one of only a handful of U.S. states that have AI policies or guidelines in place for K-12 education. In Tennessee, a law that passed last month requires public school districts to implement their own AI policies before the start of the 2024-2025 academic year, according to the Tennessee General Assembly website. California, Oregon, Washington, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia have previously published their own guidance.

In Kentucky, state legislators have called for statewide recommendations regarding AI standards for classroom and administrative use; and for an AI professional development program for public school faculty and staff — but the resulting bill has been stuck in committee since the start of the year, according to the Kentucky General Assembly website.

Aaron Gifford has several years of professional writing experience, primarily with daily newspapers and specialty publications in upstate New York. He attended the University at Buffalo and is based in Cazenovia, NY.

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