How Artificial Intelligence is Shaping K-12 Education

A group of 3 education staff, likely teachers, sit at a cafeteria desk with phones, tablets, and a computer, talking to each other.

From deeper insights into student performance and behavior to more efficient resource allocation, artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to revolutionize K-12 education. District leadership knows it, as well. In the 2024 Voice of the Superintendent Survey, 97% of school superintendents said that schools must teach students how to use AI effectively and responsibly

However, only 37% have a plan for incorporating AI instruction. Moreover, 96% of K-12 teachers in the United States have received no professional development or training on AI.  This is in spite of earlier data that suggested 60% of school districts planned to have teachers trained in the use of AI by the end of the 2023-2024 school year. Many school districts are still unprepared to employ AI. Most are focused on tangible concerns such as staff vacancies, disruptive student behavior, and budgeting.  What many don't realize is that AI could help them solve those problems — and that by embracing it, they could improve education for students, faculty, and staff.

In 2021, the global AI in education market was valued at USD$1.82 billion. By 2030, analyst Grandview Research predicts that it will reach at least $32.27 billion. Similarly, the wider EdTech market is expected to reach roughly $348.41 billion

These numbers paint a very clear picture. Like it or not, AI isn't going anywhere. Instead, it will continue reshaping the educational landscape for years to come as it experiences meteoric growth.

Per a report released by the United States Department of Education, that growth represents a very good reason for school districts to begin exploring AI technology sooner rather than later. 

"Urgency arises because of the scale of possible unintended or unexpected consequences," reads the brief." It is imperative to address AI now to realize key opportunities, prevent and mitigate emergent risks, and tackle unintended consequences." 

Before educators can follow that advice, however, they must first understand the different ways AI is influencing K-12 learning.

Just a few decades ago, student assessments primarily focused on memorization and letter grades. Today, student assessment tools have a wide range of different evaluation metrics, including behavior, attendance, and history. Moreover, educators can provide near-instantaneous feedback to students, directing them as they learn. With AI, educators can take this a step further, creating dynamic scenarios and evaluating their teaching methods and materials through sophisticated algorithms. Through a process of continuous refinement, AI can even help school districts gradually develop entirely new assessment methods.

If there's one area where AI excels, it's in pattern recognition. Modern algorithms are capable of identifying patterns in massive quantities of data, many of which may be completely invisible to a human observer. From these patterns, it's possible to formulate accurate predictions on student performance and behavior. 

By analyzing data such as extracurricular engagement, absenteeism, and assessment trends, an AI tool can warn a teacher that a student may be at risk of dropping out. The teacher can then proactively reach out to the student and offer their assistance. More sophisticated algorithms could even provide an educator with a recommended course of action — counseling for a student who appears to be displaying signs of emotional distress, for example. 

It isn't just students that will benefit from AI in the classroom. Faculty has much to gain, as well. Consider, for example, that a recent survey by the Grattan Institute notes that teachers spend anywhere from three to ten hours a week developing lesson plans for their students. Imagine if, instead, they could simply outsource all that planning to an AI tool.

Per another study by McKinsey & Company, using technology such as AI in preparatory activities could cut the amount of time teachers have to spend on them by as much as 30%. Teachers can then redirect that time to student interaction and engagement. That doesn't even go into how much time educators could save by delegating assessment tasks such as grading to a purpose-built AI.

Because they're spending less time on busy work, teachers will consequently have more time and energy to direct toward their students — to the benefit of everyone involved.

AI can also play a significant role in faculty data management and professional development. From an administrative perspective, intelligent automation could streamline everything from scheduling and student attendance to basic data entry.  Beyond that, administrators could use AI-powered chatbots to answer basic questions and assist with simple administrative tasks, freeing them up to focus on more complex work.

Back in 2018, for instance, Georgia State University incorporated the AdmitHub Chatbot. In just the first year, the bot answered over 200,000 questions. Now consider how much AI technology has advanced since 2018 — how much it's evolved in just the past year — and it's obvious why it's considered such a game-changer from an administrative perspective. 

Far from answering basic questions about scheduling and enrollment, a K-12 chatbot could potentially manage the entire process from beginning to end. These chatbots could also be extended to faculty, providing information about benefits, scheduling sick days, and much more.

According to research published by the RAND Corporation, the most common way teachers use AI tools is to adapt instructional content and generate materials for their students. 

Developing a generic lesson plan for an entire classroom is a significant undertaking on its own. Most teachers have neither the time nor the energy to create individualized lesson plans for each student. AI makes that a non-issue, but not in the way one might think. 

Rather than rely solely on algorithms to generate personalized content, the most effective K-12 systems support the teacher in delivering that content themselves.   

"The future of education," writes Kiddom Co-Founder and CEO Ahsan Rizvi, "Starts with teachers at the helm of the classroom, but they have a new partner. AI built and trained on high-quality education content and properly tuned for classroom use."

"This AI would understand student needs, which students are lagging, and who is outperforming," he continues. "It could alert the teacher and recommend quality materials it has discerned from other content to provide a remedy. [It is] no longer a point solution with a single benefit, but rather a platform that provides a holistic teaching and learning environment that empowers teachers to do all things more efficiently and effectively."

There's no shortage of fear, uncertainty, and doubt being spread about AI's role in education. About its potential to kickstart a new wave of plagiarism or the possibility that it might replace human teachers entirely. These fears are largely unfounded. 

While there are risks to implementing AI in the classroom and the school district, they are nowhere near as significant as you might be led to believe. And they in no way erase the fact that AI is a true game-changer. Integrating AI into your ERP system enables better data analysis, resource allocation, lesson planning, and student engagement. 

More importantly, it empowers faculty through self-service administration, easier access to their data, and automation of unnecessary work associated with everything from expense claims to vendor management. And in the process, it frees teachers up to focus on what's truly important — ensuring the best possible outcome for every student. 

Ready to take the first step in seeing how an AI-enhanced ERP solution can reshape your school? Check out our free RFP template to get started.

Are you ready to spark change?

With Sparkrock 365, you'll have the tools to manage your finances and workforce more efficiently so you can focus on what you do best. Go from paper-based processes to intelligent online workflows, and access the data you need to make a real difference in your community.
book a demo
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram