Do AI tools like ChatGPT help school students or do they just make cheating easier?

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Hey Bee readers! It’s Lasherica with the Education Lab, meaning this is the March 22 edition of our newsletter. And yes, I – and not some artificial intelligence (AI) – am actually typing this.

We’ve seen AI produce stories in journalism. We’ve seen AI used in automobiles, arts, music and other fields.

With the rise in intelligence, the school community is examining how it fits into education.

Since at least early January, Education Week and others have reported on AI, specifically the new AI tool ChatGPT. For example, according to Education Week coverage, educators feared that students would use the software to cheat rather than researching and writing for their classes.

Some school systems banned it as a proactive measure, Education Week reported. Other educators, including those interviewed by Education Week, provided tips for handling ChatGPT plagiarism when it happens.

On the other end of the spectrum were teachers who used the technology in their classrooms, including teachers who say the tool made their job easier.

High school English teacher Cherie Shields wrote an opinion piece Don’t Ban ChatGPT. Use It as a Teaching Tool. She talks about the days where she once researched with an encyclopedia but acknowledged how students are “light years away from those old research methods.”

Higher education professor Gretchen Vogelgesang Lester also offered insight through EdSource about using it to teach students.

The San Jose associate professor voiced educator concerns with plagiarism and cheating but challenged educators to stay a step ahead.

“One approach to address this challenge is for educators to stay one step ahead of AI, creating increasingly more challenging questions that require analysis, limiting the use of computers in class and during tests and incorporating software that can detect AI-generated answers,” she said. “Unless we want to become drones that merely recite what AI creates for us, educators must stress the importance of the sensemaking process and embrace the technology as a tool we can use to sharpen the learning process.”

After months of learning about AI in education, where do you stand on the issue?


Clovis Unified School District names new superintendent after months-long search

Every candidate, with proven leadership, could’ve led the district as the next superintendent, board members expressed.

This dual immersion program in Fresno Unified is one of a kind — and seeing academic returns

The program launched just five years ago but has already shown promising results

Clovis Unified names newest school after a longtime teacher who ‘rose above’ adversity

“That’s the kind of example that I want to put on a school name.”

Will Selma schools end foggy day schedules? It’s among key issues in stalled contract talks

Selma teachers say the district should treat pay raises and foggy day schedules as separate issues.

Plans in the works for Fresno Unified’s first Latinx graduation ceremony this spring

The ceremony is planned for June.

Clovis Unified says it’s a ‘win-win’ idea, but will it cost some families $775 a week?

Parents have been asking CUSD to help transport a small number of students with serious medical needs.

Why Sanger Unified won’t interview outside candidates to fill the superintendent’s job

Adela Jones, the district’s current superintendent, is retiring on June 30.

Most Fresno-area schools suspend students above the state average. Here’s the data

The suspension rate was even higher among each district’s Black and foster student populations.

Clovis parents pledge to keep fighting for their students with severe medical needs

“This is starting to feel like us versus you,” one parent told the school board.

‘Secret deal’ or ‘vendetta?’ Why Parlier Unified refuses to pay ex-superintendent nearly $250K

The separation agreement was approved during the previous school board’s final meeting.

Did a Fresno Unified employee order staff not to speak Spanish? An investigation is under way

“I was being told that a part of my identity was illegal.”

Family of Fresno student killed in hit-and-run says failures ‘started with the school’

Rashad Al-Hakim Jr., a 15-year-old Hoover High School student, was struck by a car on Oct. 4 near the school.

After months of busing struggles, Fresno Unified spends $1.2 million on new school buses

The new vehicles will come with air-conditioning to face down the brutal central San Joaquin Valley summer heat.


K-12 Education

Madera Unified School District’s Migrant Education Program has been hosting a five-week English Language Arts Academy every Saturday. The academy started March 4 and will continue until April 1.

The district invited its K-12 migrant students to participate in the supplemental instruction in English Language Arts, cultural awareness and college and career opportunities.

In early March, San Joaquin Memorial High School in Fresno held “Celebrate Abilities Day,” a 12th annual event that’s a “day of fun and friendship” for Central Valley students with special needs.

Teens and young adults with special needs are paired with two San Joaquin Memorial buddies to accompany them around San Joaquin Memorial High as they play carnival games, participate in sports challenges and enjoy other fun activities, a media release detailed.

The flagship event built on community service “honors the talents, abilities and gifts that God has given each of us,” Principal Anthony Goston said in the media release.

Clovis Unified hosted its Latino High School Student Success Conference in mid-March with a TikTok comedian and other community mentors meant to inspire students, a media release said.

TikTok star and Valley native Leo González, who has more than 2.5 million followers, provided relatable experiences that encouraged students to “dream big and pursue their passion.”

Designed to raise self-awareness, the leadership conference featured multiple speakers and breakout sessions with a college and career fair, meetings with area professionals and a cultural demonstration.

“It’s vital students learn about paths to success as they consider their futures after high school,” CUSD Coordinator of Community Relations Saul Salinas said.

The Foundation for Clovis Schools, a nonprofit that supports Clovis Unified, is honoring 17 high school juniors as Students of Promise on Wednesday night, a media release said.

Each honoree made education a priority in spite of experiencing “things no one their age should have to experience,” such as death of family members, abuse or housing insecurities.

“Unfortunately, these teenagers have experienced things no one their age should ever have to experience,” Foundation Chairperson Michael Fennacy said. “The courage and strength they have shown as they carry on, as they keep showing up to school, as they keep trying their best, is so inspiring. They likely do not even realize how amazing they are, and we want them to know their efforts and tenacity have been noticed.”

Selected their junior year, the Students of Promise receipts receive $2,000 scholarships once they graduate and enroll to further their education.

“The scholarship is our way to let these students know that we see incredible promise in them, and that we believe in their future,” Fennacy said about the program that started in 2001 to recognize at-risk students who continued attending school, being responsible and excelling academically as they faced challenging situations.

“We want to encourage them to keep on striving for their dreams.”

Registration for Fresno Unified’s transitional kindergarten and kindergarten students is open for the 2023-24 school year, which starts on Monday, August 14, a media release said.

Children turning 5-years-old between Sept. 2 and April 2 qualify for TK, and kids who are 5-years old on or before Sept. 1 qualify for kindergarten. Online registration can be found on the district’s website.

“Our Family Goal, adopted by our board of education, is to increase opportunities for our families to engage in their students’ education, and that starts with our youngest learners,” Superintendent Bob Nelson said.

Higher Education

A record number of students applied to UC Merced in contrast to the national trend of declining enrollment in higher education.

More than 26,000 prospective first-year students applied to UC Merced, the college said in a media release.

“UC Merced has a reputation for excellence and opportunity, and is located in one of the most affordable cities among all UC campuses,” Chancellor Juan Sánchez Muñoz said about a gratifying but not surprising increase.

Fresno City College Women’s Campus Connected scheduled numerous events throughout March to commemorate Women’s History Month. This Thursday, the college will host Susan Burton, a leader in criminal justice reform and award-winning author.

During the 2 p.m. event in the OAB Auditorium, Burton will discuss her journey “from prison to recovery to leading the fight against mass incarceration” as she talks about her life experiences, FCC said.

“She is living proof of the power of self-transformation and is committed to empowering others to find opportunities to heal in a ‘calm, settled, inviting, and warm environment, an environment where they feel connected and a part of the community,’” the college said.

Fresno Pacific University is creating another partnership to provide guaranteed college admission to students. The latest partnership is with Visalia Unified Schools.

The partnership will “build a culture of college-going in Visalia,” university and school district leaders said in mid-March. Out of Visalia Unified, 300 of 2,000 graduating seniors enrolled at a four-year university last school year.

“That doesn’t have to be the story,” Superintendent Kirk Shrum said.

Fresno Pacific will guarantee admission and a minimum financial aid package to juniors with a 3.0 GPA and all the completed requirements — similar to the agreements with schools in Chawanakee Unified School District in Madera County and Chaffey Joint Union High School District in Ontario, CA. Visalia Unified also has a similar arrangement with UC Merced.

“We have a lot of untapped potential, students who could do more,” Shrum, the superintendent, said.


Julianna’s List

How a Texas girl scared of school shootings was punished

She received the punishment of three days of suspension and completing the rest of eighth grade in an alternative school after reporting a comment she heard another student made, telling a classmate “Don’t come to school tomorrow” – which was found to be an unsubstantiated threat. | The Dallas Morning News

Thurmond sets up hotline to report schools with unfair discipline practices

The tipline is supposed to facilitate reports of schools that disproportionately discipline students of color, as well as underreporting of this data. | EdSource

What Supreme Court arguments told us about the future of student loan forgiveness

“Experts say it appears likely that student loan forgiveness will get thrown out based on the Supreme Court’s desire to limit executive power.” | Time

Los Angeles teachers, other workers plan three-day strike as labor woes explode

The anticipated strike would also involve cafeteria workers, bus drivers, custodians, special education assistants and others. | Los Angeles Times

Lasherica’s List

What Happened When One of the First Large School Districts Adopted a Four-Day Week

School districts in metropolitan areas looking to cut a day from their academic week should be prepared to see drops in teacher retention, student achievement, and home values within their boundaries, at least in the short-term, according to new research. | Education Week

Orange Unified accused of ‘full ambush’ to fire superintendent; did it violate state’s open meeting law?

A citizen complaint demands that the school board hold a repeat, legal meeting. | EdSource

The Top 7 Most Banned Picture Books Last School Year

More than 300 picture books meant for young readers were banned from school and library shelves last school year. | Education Week

Why the ‘Science of Reading’ Needs the ‘Science of Teaching’

It’s time to capitalize on the science of teaching. | EDVIEW360 Blog Series

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