Policy Guidance for Generative AI just Released

Cover of Guidance Document

From the time I started with my interviews to the time I got through the review, the number of states that had released some sort of AI guidance grew from just a couple to a little over a handful, with two states releasing guidance as I was writing! I reviewed some regional and national guidance documents, as well.

My goal was not to write the definitive “how to” guide on developing AI guidance or policies. I’m not sure anyone can do that at this point, because AI is evolving so quickly. Instead, I tried to learn from those states who first tackled this important issue in order to offer guiding questions leadership teams might consider as they develop their own guidance and policies. For this reason, I call them considerations. The considerations are written in a way that would be suitable for leadership teams at the school, district, or state level.

Not every school, district, or state is going to need to address every consideration. Based on the documents I reviewed, not all states did. But taken as a whole, we can learn from across all of these states—and those that have and will release guidance since this was published—to strengthen new policy documents as they are developed. It was interesting to note the influence of early documents on subsequent documents released afterwards. That’s the spirit of this document: learn from others and move our understanding forward.

I hope the considerations are helpful. They will eventually need review and revision as the capacity and characteristics of AI change over time. Some states astutely labeled their guidance as “1.0.” That’s a good lesson for anyone delving into this realm.

Equitable Grading Conversations with the Oregon DOE

I’m excited to announce that September 29 will mark the launch of a new cohort of 15+ school teams from across Oregon that will be exploring policies and practices related to grading and how they are or might be more equitable. It’s a big topic and one with many parameters, and I’ve learned so much with this fantastic ODE team.

I was asked to join the work with my ALP colleague, Bob Dillon through an offer by Dell and Advanced Learning Partnerships. (By the way, Bob is is the co-author of the great Space books on learning spaces and others–check ’em out! And sign up for his blog.) I need to share up front that I am not an expert on equitable grading, but I do have some pretty significant experiences with developing online learning communities going back, well, let’s say…before Facebook. Bob is such a great thinker and is so good at comprehending and evaluating a situation and sharing it back for reflection. I’m glad to have this opportunity to work with him on this initiative.

About the Work

The gist of the matter is that inequitable grading practices that have existed, well, possibly as long as there have been grades. These inequities were exacerbated this past year during the pressures and stress of “remote” learning. However, that experience, as difficult as it was (and still is in many places) helped to exacerbate what has like been years (decades!) of inequitable grading policies and practice. The ODE team is dedicated to helping the educators in their state grapple with the issue rather than accepting the status quo. There has been significant interest in the topic from districts across the state.

A critical component of ODE’s approach is to avoid being directive. They take a position that they don’t tell school and district educators what to do. Instead, they take a stance of empowering educators in their state to evaluate and reflect on their own needs and then giving them resources at their level of need or experience. That has been a guiding principle in this work, and I’m excited to see it roll out over the next few months.

My homework for the Oregon learning community on equitable grading.

What to Expect

Honestly, I’m not sure, but I am super excited! I have such a good feeling for this project. Luckily there is a wealth of information to support those interested in exploring equitable grading practices, as evidenced by my homework picture. I especially enjoyed What We Know about Grading by Thomas Guskey and Susan Brookhart, two education leaders whose work I have long admired on this and other topics. With these resources and others, the ODE team has been so conscientious about designing the experience for the needs of their constituents and realizing that teams may be at a different place in their exploration of equitable grading.

On September 29 we get to meet the pilot teams that have volunteered to participate. One requirement is that a building-level administrator be a part of the team, because both you and I know that if the principal isn’t on board, nothing happens. From there, the teams will be provided an opportunity to explore five “modules” on both a self-paced-PLC basis as well as interacting with the larger statewide community. The goal is to have teams develop their own for a plan for tackling the aspects of equitable grading that are relevant to their own school culture. I’m excited to see what the teams come up with. I’m looking forward to sharing this experience and learning with them.

Stay tuned for updates!

What does your P stand for?

I’ve just returned from my final coaching visits with some great teachers in Evergreen Public Schools in Vancouver, WA. We’ve been exploring PBL together. They’ve been developing and implementing PBL units and we discuss what they’ve learned and how that will impact their practice in the future. This last visit was the third in a series of three, and I’m so proud of the work these teachers have done—and their administrators. This has been such a rewarding experience because not only have teachers taken risks and tried new things, but their administrators have supported and encouraged them. They’ve become learners themselves, and have explored PBL right along with their teachers, acknowledging they have questions and want to learn, as well.

Steve Doyle PBL

Steve Doyle connects history with current events through his PBL unit in his social studies class.

I was also fortunate to share some ideas with the full faculty of both schools—Legacy High School and Harmony Elementary. We explored some of the characteristics of PBL and what that might mean for their lessons. I also got to showcase the work and experiences of the great residency teachers I’ve been working with, who have really dug in and have the best stories to share.

You’ll notice I just use the term “PBL” and don’t elaborate. That’s because the P in PBL can mean different things to different people. Both in the textbook I’ve co-authored and in many schools where I’ve embarked down the PBL path with teachers, I like to acknowledge this. And often I ask people what they think the P should stand for?

For many, the P in PBL stands for project. I’m good with that. A really good project can be an engaging source of deeper learning—especially when that project requires students to develop new knowledge and skills that they can then demonstrate through that project. In this case, the project is the learning, and not just something students do at the end. It’s not that they won’t need some guidance, and even directed learning, as they work on their projects, but the project isn’t just something tacked on at the end of other learning. Teachers don’t have enough time to add on projects after the learning, so the best projects are the learning. But for me, simply engaging students in a project is not enough to make it good PBL.

With the changes in the summative assessment landscape over the past decade, some people also suggest that the P in PBL stands for performance. I like that one, too, partly because almost all of the learning my own students did led to some kind of a performance—a public performance. I was a band director. So whether it was Friday night on the football field, in a concert hall or cafeteria, or performances of soloists or small ensembles, my students engaged in PBL activities that led to a performance. My work in developing performance tasks is actually, in part, an attempt to accomplish what my last principal suggested I help him with. He asked me to help him figure out how to get other teachers, whether math, science, English—whatever—to get their students to “perform” their content. PBL can do that, but again, just adding a performance doesn’t get to the best PBL.

Laura Buno, Harmony Elementary

Principal, Laura Buno, explores PBL by visiting and learning with the faculty at Harmony Elementary.

For me, the one P that I think should be in every PBL unit is a problem. A real problem. A complex problem. Real-world problems help kids get to the level of strategic thinking unlike academic problems that can be fairly sanitized and yield only one correct answer. These are what Wiggins & McTighe would refer to as exercises, not problems. They’re important, because they help students develop knowledge and skills, but what for? To tackle real problems, of course, and so in my PBL, I try to ensure there’s some real-world problem students are investigating. You can have a project with a problem, and you can include a performance at the end of a project, but without a problem, your students are going to miss out on the greater benefits of PBL and not reach those higher levels of cognitive demand that lead to deeper learning and transfer. What does your P stand for?

When asked to reflect on what makes good learning memorable, some of the faculty and staff at Harmony Elementary reported that memorable learning is:

  • Authentic
  • Provides student choice
  • Builds on individual strengths
  • Promotes independence
  • Hands-on
  • Engaging
  • Not limited by time
  • Fun
  • Group-based
  • Thought provoking
  • Connected to things outside the classroom
  • Collaborative

Sounds like great PBL to me!