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The New Reality Roundup | Week 156

It is week 156 of our new reality, and state legislative sessions are heating up across the country while advances in AI are upending how teachers teach and students learn around the world.

After years of hype and countless science-fiction movies, AI has finally arrived in the classroom.

“I don’t need to start this post with the usual predictions that AI will transform our classrooms. It is obviously happening,” writes Ethan Mollick, a professor at the Wharton School of Business, in a new article outlining his latest research on the best strategies for leveraging AI in teaching.

A recent Vox profile of Ethan and his wife Lilach gives a sense of what’s possible. “Neither Ethan Mollick nor Lilach, his equally AI obsessed research collaborator at Wharton and his spouse, are AI experts by background. Ethan researches and teaches entrepreneurship, while Lilach works on developing interactive simulations meant to help students try out scenarios like job interviews, elevator pitches to investors, running an early-stage startup, and more,” writes Dylan Matthews.

“With astonishing speed for non-specialists, they’re embracing generative AI and using it to remake their own jobs,” Matthews explains. “Beginning in December, Ethan used ChatGPT to devise a syllabus for an introductory course on entrepreneurship, come up with a final assignment, and develop a grading rubric for the final assignment. He used it to produce a test submission for the assignment and to grade that submission, using the rubric the AI had created previously.”

Lilach Mollick “was already on the more innovative end of what modern classrooms have to offer… She’s started playing around with having ChatGPT or Bing run the simulation: sending it a version of a sample pitch she wrote (pretending to be a student) and having it give feedback… according to a set rubric.”

Here at 50CAN, we’re also testing out new ways to use ChatGPT, including putting it through the paces as our editor for this week’s newsletter.

Last time, we put the spotlight on the Summer Boost learning initiative and shared promising work in supporting English language learners in Connecticut. This week, we take a closer look at the promise of AI with John Bailey and explore how the Land of Enchantment is leading the way forward on the science of reading.

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The New Reality Roundup | Week 154

“When this school year began, Issac Moreno just couldn’t get himself to go,” writes Jonaki Mehta in a new article for NPR. “The last fully normal school year Issac remembers is third grade. Now, he’s in seventh …Issac’s mother, Jessica Moreno, says it’s been a struggle to get Issac back into the routine of going to school.”

Issac isn’t alone. The decision to close school buildings and keep them closed created ripples of dislocation and broken norms that continue to disrupt the lives of millions of students and their families.

“Before the pandemic, about 8 million U.S. students were considered chronically absent, according to the research group Attendance Works. That’s when a student misses 10% or more of the school year. By spring 2022, that number had doubled to around 16 million,” Mehta writes. “Students who are chronically absent are at higher risk of falling behind, scoring lower on standardized tests and even dropping out. And as often happens in education, students who struggle with attendance are also more likely to live in poverty, be children of color or have disabilities.”

It is an important reminder of the urgency of reaching every child with more than just an invitation to return to normal but the better services, support and opportunities needed for a real recovery.

Last time in the New Reality Roundup, we looked at a new series of essays on a future of education that truly centers families and stated the need to put a focus on kids rather than the conflicts of our political system. This week, we look at a successful summer proof point and the need to replicate it widely and share promising work in supporting English language learners in Connecticut.