Survey: AI Low on Superintendents' Priority List as Districts Face Challenges

In education consulting company EAB's 2024 "The Voice of the Superintendent" survey, while superintendents agree that adopting AI is important, non-academic challenges make it a low priority.

The online survey, which ran from Nov. 27, 2023, to Jan. 10, 2024, was completed by 148 superintendents in 39 states. Of those completing, 70% had been in their jobs from one to 10 years. The majority of district makeup was suburban (52%) and rural (37%).

The survey reported an increase in superintendent job satisfaction, with a 9% increase in those planning to stay in their jobs over the next two years, despite exhaustion and burnout.

While 97% of superintendents feel schools should implement and teach the responsible use of AI in their classrooms, only 37% currently have a plan to do so. For the rest, non-academic challenges are making it nearly impossible.

Superintendents reported these major challenges have either stayed the same or increased since 2023:

  • Chronic student absenteeism, cited by 63% of respondents;
  • Disruptive student behaviors, 77%;
  • Worsening student mental health, 76%, with 77% of superintendents blaming social media (These first three challenges have been prevalent regardless of student socioeconomic status, results show.);
  • Chronic staff absenteeism, 51% instructional, and 52% non instructional (with working conditions to blame); and
  • Staffing shortages, i.e., open positions, 52% instructional and 66% non instructional.

The survey concludes with three major recommendations for addressing these issues:

  • Build a leadership team to identify solutions and implement changes;
  • Join forces with other districts, especially those who have had successes, to share how to solve challenges; and
  • Start a task to move forward with implementing AI, which will help free up teacher administrative tasks and reduce burnout.

To download a copy of the executive summary, visit EAB's "The Voice of the Superintendent" survey page.

About the Author

Kate Lucariello is a former newspaper editor, EAST Lab high school teacher and college English teacher.