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About AI in Schools

Originally sent to families on September 6, 2023:

Dear Families,
During Orientation, we have been talking about the recent (and rapid) advancements in artificial intelligence (AI). You have likely heard about ChatGPT, but there are myriad similar tools out there. For example, here's how Google Bard works:

Technological advances have changed how we teach and learn countless times: hand-held calculators and Excel sparked changes in math instruction, spell checkers and translation software did the same for language learning, and so forth.
AI is not a recent invention. But the technology has become powerful and easily accessible in a relatively short time. When prompted with a topic and parameters, a chatbot can generate a whole essay in a matter of seconds. AI can produce images and presentations, can solve equations and write step-by-step instructions. And its work can be hard to distinguish from work by human creators.
So how does this affect what we do in school?
To answer that question, we drew on our mission, commitment to equity and inclusion, and educational philosophy and on our Portrait of a Graduate. We also wanted to be consistent with past adoptions of academic technology – including our 1:1 iPad program, SIS, Google Workspace, and even online learning amid the pandemic. Accordingly, here are our current guiding principles:
  • We commit to using AI effectively, critically, ethically, and responsibly. The technology is at our fingertips, and we should neither ignore it nor use it recklessly.
  • We will use AI primarily to advance learning objectives. AI should never be used as a substitute for learning crucial skills and content.
  • We will be transparent about our use of AI and clearly communicate expectations and policies to students. Individual teachers will have discretion and responsibility to develop their own expectations, based on their subject area and course. Such policies will be included in the syllabus.
  • When students and teachers use an AI tool, they will cite and credit the tool, in some cases sharing the logs of their interactions with the tool.
  • Students who do not follow the applicable policies and/or do not cite AI appropriately may face disciplinary action for an academic integrity violation.
  • We will review and update our these principles in an ongoing, inclusive fashion. 
In short, students should ask their teachers before employing AI technology in class and on assignments. Like any technological advancement, this one has significant advantages and pitfalls – and we can only navigate them through open discussion.
Thank you for partnering with us in these discussions.
David Panush
Director of Innovative Learning and Technology​
Steve McManus
Head of School
Co-ed, progressive, college prep school in Washington, DC featuring a challenging curriculum in an inclusive environment for grades 6-12.