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K-12 schools don't have the staffing consistency or classroom management skills necessary to harness AI's power and address its risks.

K-12 schools aren’t ready for AI’s risks or benefits

Perennial problems such as staffing issues and disruptive student behavior continue to plague districts and make it nearly impossible to address AI in the classroom

Key points:

Almost all school superintendents (97 percent) say that schools have an obligation to teach students how to use AI effectively and responsibly. Still, only 37 percent have a plan for incorporating AI instruction in the classroom, according to the 2024 Voice of the Superintendent Survey released by education company EAB at the School Superintendent Association (AASA) National Conference on Education.

Eighty-four percent say teachers in their districts are concerned about students using generative AI to cheat and take shortcuts.

“EAB’s report confirms that teacher shortages, behavioral disruptions, worsening student mental health, and other familiar challenges are so pervasive that exploring how new technologies such as AI can help doesn’t even make the ‘to-do’ list,” said EAB Senior Director of K-12 Research Ben Court.

Superintendents indicated that staffing issues remain their most pressing problem. Roughly half (52 percent) say the number of teacher vacancies has increased over the past 12 months, and two-thirds (66 percent) say the number of vacancies for noninstructional staff has increased.

A rise in work absences among teachers further compounds the staffing shortage. Nearly half (48 percent) of districts report an increase in missed workdays among instructional staff over the past year, while 55 percent of districts report an increase in missed workdays among noninstructional staff.

The survey also showed there has been little relief from rising rates of disruptive behavior and student absenteeism that soared during the pandemic. Sixty-four percent cite no improvement while 42 percent say rates of absenteeism have increased over the past year. Similarly, 76 percent of superintendents report no improvement in disruptive behaviors while 57 percent say disruptive incidents have increased.

“EAB continues to work with district leaders to share data and best practices on how to overcome these perennial problems so they can focus on teaching students the skills they need to succeed,” Court continued.

This press release originally appeared online.

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