K-12 Momentum: August 2023

Beam Me Up, AI
A tricorder - This image is copyrighted by Paramount Global, but used here under Fair Use guidelines.
A tricorder This image is copyrighted by Paramount Global, but used here under Fair Use guidelines.

Dear friends,

Dr. Forest "Bones" McCoy, the legendary Star Trek doctor, was famous for confronting novel situations by saying, "Captain Kirk, I’m a doctor, not a…." Fill in the blank — a bricklayer, psychiatrist, physicist and even an escalator! So how would he react to AI?

I doubt Dr. McCoy would say "Jim, I’m a physician, not a mathematical algorithm.…" He loved medical technology too much, particularly his handy tricorder, a very useful hand-held device that could scan planetary landscapes and analyze all known medical information to swiftly diagnose a patient. McCoy was a doctor who used technology to advance his work– always with a critical eye. As educators begin to grapple with AI, his attitude is instructive.

Within the next few months, we will gain our first insight into our own new world: student homework. Considering that one study from January of students and teachers found 89% of student respondents have used ChatGPT to help with a homework assignment, the application of OpenAI’s platform is already here. The take home essay or short answer exam will be no doubt affected by the AI now on everyone’s smartphone.

What should we do? Thinkers like Ethan Mollick have suggested incorporating AI into classroom instruction and work assignments to avoid a "homework apocalypse." Others have suggested different strategies for incorporating it in classroom instruction. We don’t have access to K-12 tricorders quite yet, but we have something Dr. McCoy didn’t — inspiring, inquisitive, ingenious public school teachers - whose use of this technology is already skyrocketing according to new research from the Walton Foundation. We have to support teachers to meet this moment, and provide the training and access they need in digestible, accessible resources — with their own ingenuity front and center.

Unfortunately, we don’t have the option to simply say "Beam me up" like the Star Trek crew. We have to rely on old fashion methods. As you and other educators develop ideas, let us know or share them with the teaching community (here’s a space that I love: Teacher2Teacher). We will disseminate information in real time as we learn more. Homework is the beginning. We all must boldly go where no one has gone before…. together.

In partnership,


Bob Hughes

Bob Hughes
Director, K-12 Education

Quick Takes

Here Comes the Boost: Donors Choose

Since 2014, we have proudly supported a Back to School Boost with Donors Choose to help support teachers as they prepare for the new school year. This year’s Back to School Boost will happen on August 2, 2023. On that day, every project donation on Donors Choose will get a 50% match from the Gates Foundation. Check out projects now on DonorsChoose.org to be a part of the boost on Wednesday!

Interested in Curriculum-Based Professional Learning? Us Too!

Rivet Education recently released its first inaugural research brief highlighting supply and demand data in curriculum-based professional learning as well as its impact on teacher practice and student outcomes. The report was conducted in partnership with Center for Education Market Dynamics, the Center for Public Research and Leadership at Columbia University, RAND Corporation, the Research Partnership for Professional Learning at Annenberg, and The Decision Lab. Read more here.

Sign Up For New Math Market Intel

The Center for Education Market Dynamics (CEMD), a nonprofit K-12 market intelligence organization, is publishing its inaugural math market reports beginning August 15th. In the first report, K-8 Math Curriculum Quality: The State of District-Led Selection, CEMD paints a picture of the national footprint of high-quality math curriculum. In the companion report, K-8 Curriculum Products & Publishers: The State of District-Led Selection, CEMD looks at specific publishers and products. Subscribe to the CEMD newsletter to be among the first readers of these math market reports.

Vital Prize Finalists!

Breaking news! Our partners at the National Science Foundation have announced that 54 teams will move to the semi-final round of the VITAL Prize Challenge which launched earlier this year to support interdisciplinary teams to develop technologies and innovations for K-12 learning.. Semi-final teams will receive further funding and support as they create education innovations. Read more here.

What We're Reading

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Ed Week: teacher professional development explained

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A national framework for K-12 teaching apprenticeships

A “yes, and” approach to education policy