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How School Districts Can Use Generative AI to Get More Value Out of Data


Ever since OpenAI released ChatGPT towards the end of 2022, artificial intelligence has evolved at a breakneck pace. Today, it has grown to dominate and disrupt virtually every industry, including K-12 education. And that’s not a bad thing, either — according to a recent report, 90 percent of educators view AI as a beacon for more accessible education.

We recently discussed how AI can transform Human Resources and Payroll. But HRP only scratches the surface of what AI can accomplish in education. Data analysis represents another promising use case — arguably one of the most promising. 

With a basic understanding of generative AI and prompt engineering, K-12 school districts can gain deeper insights into everything from student performance to absences and achievement trends. Keep reading to learn how you can apply this to your own school district.


What is Generative AI? 

Previously, we defined AI as a program or set of programs that evaluate and learn from complex datasets over time. Although tangentially an attempt to imitate human intelligence (HI), AI excels in several areas where humans fall short. In addition to being able to process and parse massive volumes of data, AI is effective at tasks such as identifying nuanced patterns, tackling repetitive tasks, and making data-driven decisions. 

Generative AI is an emerging segment of AI technology that uses AI to generate content ranging from simple text to audio and video. This typically requires two things — a vast amount of training data and a specialized type of AI model known as a Large Language Model. For context, an LLM is essentially an advanced learning algorithm capable of recognizing and responding to human language.

The thing that makes generative AI unique compared to other types of artificial intelligence is its accessibility. Although training and configuring a generative AI tool still requires highly specialized knowledge and expertise, almost anyone can use that tool effectively. You just need to know how to tell the AI what you want it to do.


How Can AI Help School Districts With Reporting and Analytics?

Even a smaller school district generates an absolutely massive volume of data, particularly if the schools within that district have embraced digital transformation. Every action taken by a student, every completed assignment and interaction with a teacher adds to that sea of information. There’s enormous value to be found within all that data — provided one knows where to look.

That’s where AI comes in. An AI solution can detect patterns and pull insights which might otherwise be completely invisible to human educators. This, in turn, allows the district to not only make more informed decisions but also promote greater transparency.

For instance, a teacher could apply a generative AI tool to classroom data in order to:  

  • Identify students who may require intervention and support. 
  • Reduce the amount of time and effort required to generate attendance, performance or achievement reports. 
  • Determine the strengths and weaknesses of a particular student. 
  • Guide the development of personalized lesson plans and assess their effectiveness. 
  • Provide more effective feedback on student performance. 
  • Creating summaries or transcripts of meetings with parents and/or students. 

A school district, meanwhile, could combine generative AI with analytics software to more effectively allocate resources, generate enrollment forecasts, assess and provide feedback on teacher performance, and guide the development of a long-term roadmap.


Engineering Prompts for K-12 Data

The thing that sets generative AI apart from many reporting and analytics tools is that it requires very little specialized knowledge. There’s no complicated interface or feature set to learn. Instead, you can generate whatever reports you require through simple natural language queries, known as prompts. 

The process of creating a prompt that generates the desired output is known as prompt engineering. There’s a bit of an art to prompt engineering, and you can go about it in a number of different ways. However, it ultimately boils down to providing the AI with clear, unambiguous instructions that describe exactly what you want it to do. 

There are a few best practices you’ll want to keep in mind here: 

  • Keep your prompts as clear and specific as possible. 
  • Make sure the AI has access to all the necessary data to fulfill your prompt. 
  • Provide background information to help the AI contextualize your prompt. 
  • Break down overly complex tasks or problems into multiple prompts. 
  • Test multiple prompts and look for ways to refine your queries when you don’t get the desired response.  
  • Consider limiting the scope of each prompt to help the AI narrow its focus. 

For instance, let’s say you want to identify at-risk students based on poor attendance. You’ve determined that any student with more than four absences in a single month may require intervention. The prompts you might use for this process include:

  • Which students are absent from my class today? 
  • What were the reasons given for these absences? 
  • Of these absent students, which have had more than one absence in the past month? 
  • List the students with multiple absences this month by number of absences. 
  • Provide the contact information of each student on this list with four or more absences.

Prepare for the Future of AI in Education with Edsembli

It’s shocking to think that it’s only been a little over a year since OpenAI first introduced ChatGPT to the world. So much has changed since then — generative AI went from a promising curiosity to an absolute fixture in many industries. Data enrichment represents just one of many potential applications for artificial intelligence in K-12 education.

It’s also an application you cannot access if you fail to actually collect the necessary data. You’ll need a Student Information System in place from a vendor with a mindset geared towards innovation and continuous improvement. As a leading solutions provider for K-12 school districts, Edsembli provides a range of purpose-built platforms for everything from accounting to HRP. 

As a leader in SIS software, we’re as dedicated to helping school districts get the most out of their data as we are to ensuring the best possible learning outcomes for students. Don’t simply take our word for it, though. Book a demo with us today to see for yourself. 

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