Equity in Ed Tech

Digital Promise Launches New Prioritizing Racial Equity in AI Design Product Certification

SoapBox Labs is First Ed Tech Company to Earn Certification for Efforts to Eliminate Racial Bias in Its Software Design

A new ed tech certification from nonprofit Digital Promise and the Edtech Equity Project that takes aim at racial bias in AI-powered learning software is now accepting applications from ed tech providers that intentionally promote equity in their product design.

The new Prioritizing Racial Equity in AI Design Product Certification “prioritizes racial equity by proactively identifying and minimizing racial bias in product algorithms and design as well as requiring products to be transparent about the design processes and the actions they take to identify and reduce racial bias,” Digital Promise said in a news release.

The new certification is the first in a planned series of Product Certifications that will recognize ed tech solutions built to center racial equity throughout design and development, according to Digital Promise and the Edtech Equity Project. Such product certifications serve as “rigorous, reliable signals for education companies, school administrators, educators, and families looking to select technology that was designed to intentionally meet learners’ authentic and variable needs.”

“AI has tremendous promise to impact learning, especially for supporting teachers and learners who are furthest from opportunity,” said Vic Vuchic, chief strategy officer at Digital Promise. “That said, AI can have bias that impacts certain populations disproportionately. That is why Digital Promise is so excited to partner with the Edtech Equity Project to signal critical design best practices that can mitigate these biases for educators and learners of color. This product certification will help educators and learners find products that are committed to implementing these best practices and focused on making sure AI works for learners of color.”

The first ed tech company to meet the criteria for and earn the Prioritizing Racial Equity in AI Design Product Certification is SoapBox Labs, Digital Promise said. “SoapBox Labs' voice technology has been designed specifically for kids' unique speech patterns and powers some of the most widely used digital learning tools for literacy and language instruction and assessment across all grades PreK–12,” said the nonprofit’s announcement.

“This award not only recognizes SoapBox Labs’ commitment to racial equity but also constitutes a meaningful step forward for the edtech industry,” said Nidhi Hebbar, co-founder of the Edtech Equity Project. “[Co-Founder] Madison Jacobs and I are thrilled to see SoapBox Labs deliver best-in-class voice-enabled technology that sets a high standard for the industry by investing in the critical work required to ensure their AI works well for learners of color."

To earn the certification, ed tech vendors must submit evidence documenting each of the following:

  • The vendor is intentional and transparent about the design of their technology to prioritize equity.
  • The vendor is critical, collaborative, and reflective in the iterative improvements of their technology to commit to developing an equitable tool.
  • The vendor is accountable for delivering technology that establishes equitable and powerful learning experiences and outcomes that recognize and address learner variability.

Applications for the Prioritizing Racial Equity in AI Design Product Certification are now open on the Digital Promise platform.

Digital Promise’s website page for this certification offers many resources to ed tech providers for considering racism and bias within ed tech solutions, starting with a blog post entitled “What Do Ed Tech and AI Have to Do with Race?”

Edtech Equity Project also offers resources for ed tech providers such as its Ed Tech AI Toolkit for Racial Equity. in education toolkit for racial equity: How to mitigate racial bias in the design and development of your products.

About the Author

Kristal Kuykendall is editor, 1105 Media Education Group. She can be reached at [email protected].