Developing AI Policy in K–12 Schools, Step 3: Writing

Explore strategies for writing policy about artificial intelligence in K–12 schools.

Grades K-12 10 min Resource by:
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While it’s important to research and review available information regarding K–12 school AI policies, you’ll eventually need to put your web searches and stacks of research material aside and settle into the task of writing your policy.

There are many ways to approach this process. Some may wish to compose the bulk of the policy as a collective group. Others may find this too cumbersome and instead assign one member (or a small group of members) to create the first draft based on input from the larger group. In some cases, you might enter your ideas into a generative AI chatbot and have AI help synthesize ideas. Regardless of how you approach this task, you will need to come to some degree of consensus as a committee about what should be included in the policy as well as what specific actions or processes the district will stipulate on the individual aspects of AI use in a school setting.

Here are a few tasks and action steps that you may want to consider as you work through the writing process and draft your policy:

  • Readiness: Work through the K–12 Generative AI Readiness Checklist from the Council of Great City Schools and CoSN to determine how prepared your district is for the integration of generative AI. Address needs as appropriate.
  • Policy Review: Review current school policies that may already address the use of AI. This may include looking at your district’s Acceptable/Responsible Use Policy. Identify current policies that already address AI concerns, and then look for gaps in existing policy that will need to be filled by a new policy. The Council of Great City Schools and CoSN suggest reviewing the following common policies as a place to begin:
      1. Acceptable/Responsible Use Policy
      2. Data Governance Policy
      3. Code of Conduct Policy
      4. Data Privacy Policy
      5. Data Loss Notification Policy
  • Outline: Determine what to include in your new AI policy and create an outline. You could use an existing AI policy as a model or start from scratch. It may be helpful to reference the Office of Educational Technology’s Aritificial Intelligence and the Future of Teaching and Learning: Insights and Recommendations, as well as other guiding documents, such as EDSAFE AI’s SAFE Benchmarks. TeachAI also provides some policy writing suggestions in its Foundational Policy Ideas for AI in Education slideshow, which you can download, copy, or edit as desired. Their recorded webinar on the topic can also be a helpful resource. Additionally, you may want to consider including examples of how AI both should and should not be used, when and how to cite the use of AI, and other behaviors related to academic integrity. Examples can clarify policy and bring it to life.
  • Non-negotiables: As you create your outline, make sure to include the categories that you consider to be non-negotiables. For instance, CoSN suggests, “Before adopting new AI systems, school and district leaders need to not only consider some of the social and moral components but also three more immediate concerns: privacy, bias, and literacy.” One non-negotiable for every district must be to ensure that the new policy is in compliance with state and federal law.
  • Solidifying Policy Goals: It’s important to identify clear goals and stay aligned to these goals as you write. While goals will surely address locally identified needs, it is also helpful to think more broadly and reference guidance from established institutions, such as the Office of Educational Technology. For instance, their report on Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Teaching and Learning offers a list of foundations and recommendations that can serve as helpful building blocks upon which to write your own local policy. In this document, the Office of Educational Technology advises, “As protections are developed, we recommend that policies center people, not machines. To this end, a first recommendation in this document . . . is an emphasis on AI with humans in the loop. Teachers, learners, and others need to retain their agency to decide what patterns mean and to choose courses of action.” The Office of Educational Technology also offers a big-picture reminder: “Policies should not hinder innovation and improvement, nor should they be burdensome to implement.”
  • Draft Policy Language: Again, you can borrow language from other policies, or you can start from scratch. Be sure that language aligns to existing policies as well as your district mission and vision. It’s important that new guidance simultaneously honors previous district work and existing values and practices.
  • Team Approach: Even if the initial draft is written by only select members of the committee, it’s important that all committee members have some degree of input into the draft. This may come in the form of a pre-writing brainstorm of talking points and positions, or it can take shape during the review process. Having many eyes on the document during the drafting process increases the odds that your policy will be complete, in compliance with district values, and more likely to gain widespread approval and acceptance. It will also reinforce to your committee members that they are valued.
  • Alignment: Check your draft for alignment with other guiding documents and principles. Does the policy align with the mission, values, and beliefs of the district? Does the policy address gaps in current policy and the needs identified by the committee?
  • Legal: Be sure that the draft aligns with all relevant laws, regulations, and policies. Specifically, make sure that your policy is in compliance with key student and family data privacy laws, like the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Schools may also want legal counsel to review policies before they go to the board for approval.
  • Proofing: Review for clarity, accuracy, and completeness. It can be helpful to have someone who has not been a part of the drafting process to review the work and determine how clear and understandable it will be to someone new to the conversation.
  • Sound Reasoning: There is also value in having someone try to poke holes in the drafted policy. Are there loopholes to be closed or language that might be misconstrued? Is the reasoning sound?
  • Edit: Clean up any editing and formatting issues.
  • Public Comment: Once you feel that you have a sound draft, consider allowing public comment or input. This can once again help identify anything that may have been overlooked. If your district has a formal review process, be sure to follow it.
  • Board Approval: Follow your local process for board review and approval of new policy.
  • Educate Stakeholders: Your policy will do little good if it is never read. Be sure that your stakeholders see and understand the policy guidance. Principals and classroom teachers can work collectively to put it into practice. You may also want to draft talking points targeted to community and student audiences.

Even after your policy has been adopted, it is important that it remains current as technology evolves. If done carefully, policy can be written in a way that withstands the evolution of specific technologies. However, if the landscape of generative AI shifts significantly, it may be necessary to review and revise existing policy language to keep up with those shifts.

The next article in this series will focus on Step 4: Implementation where you will find steps to take once you have adopted AI policy in your K–12 school or district.

AVID Connections

This resource connects with the following components of the AVID College and Career Readiness Framework:

  • Systems
  • Leadership
  • Culture
  • Break Down Barriers
  • Align the Work
  • Advocate for Students
  • Collective Educator Agency

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