How School Districts are Integrating Generative AI into their Policies – Digital Promise

How School Districts are Integrating Generative AI into their Policies

February 29, 2024 | By , and

As generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) becomes increasingly common in conversations within school districts, education leaders require resources that will guide its integration. Digital Promise’s AI literacy framework addresses the skills that support GenAI integration, but this needs to be complemented with districts’ Acceptable Use Policies (AUPs) —a set of conditions and guidelines that instruct how a network system may be used.

The Responsible, Ethical, and Effective Acceptable Use Policies for the Integration of Generative AI in US School Districts and Beyond (RAPID) project is collaborating with 10 League of Innovative School districts to revise their existing AUPs. Located across the country, half of these districts are classified as Title I schools, with four maintaining a student population that predominantly identifies as Black and/or Latinx. Within this process of revising their AUPs, district leaders and the RAPID project are developing sample language for including GenAI into their districts’ existing AUP, which will also be a resource for other districts.

In the fall of 2023, the RAPID project talked to 10 districts about their current status with AUP revisions and what they hope to share with their students, teachers, and community members as GenAI becomes more prevalent. This conversation revealed that districts are actively working to include GenAI into their AUPs, and this work requires sources of collaboration, guidance, and tensions that exist in their district regarding AI use.

A 3D triangular diagram with three bidirectional arrows. The bottom left arrow is blue and labeled 'understand', the bottom right arrow is orange and labeled 'evaluate', and the top arrow is green and oriented vertically, labeled 'use'. The text labels are embedded in the main shaft of the arrows in white font.

Figure 1. AI Literacy Framework includes three components: Understand, Use, and Evaluate

Districts require multiple sources of information to integrate GenAI into their acceptable use policies.

While privacy and safety is at the core of policy revision, district leaders want to ensure that generative AI is proactive, not restrictive.

All of the districts that we spoke to do not have GenAI integrated into their existing acceptable use policies. This doesn’t mean that AI is not front of mind, however. Districts plan to factor GenAI into their AUPs and consider as many guiding points as possible to inform their policy revision. District leaders mentioned three key sources that inform how they want to include GenAI into their AUPs:

Talking with various types of audiences

District leaders are having conversations with various members of their school ecosystem to guide how they want GenAI to be integrated into their AUPs. This list includes, but is not limited to, established task forces and steering committees, students, educators, and other leadership. They also noted that forming connections and building off the knowledge and work of their League peers is useful.

Referencing existing regulations

District leaders highlighted they must still adhere to policies at their local and state levels. Existing and strict data privacy agreements within these policies may deter developers from signing. As a result, districts won’t be able to use these generative AI products. District leaders spoke about the tension between what they see in the classroom and existing policy: “We are at a crossroad on what the state law says in prohibiting AI in generative AI and what’s actually happening in the classroom.”

“It’s like we’re ready to run and we have something from 1982 holding us back.”

Personal Values

With new technology, district leaders expressed conflicting feelings about its purpose and use. District leaders reiterated the importance of keeping privacy and ethics at the forefront to protect members of their school district, and to keep humans at the center of the policy. They noted that this did not necessarily mean severely restricting AI usage, rather that AI usage should be proactive and responsible. Students and other members of the school community should feel comfortable, safe, and knowledgeable about how they use AI in schools. As one district leader shared, “We need to transform and shift that conversation and paradigm to be, ‘Hey, these are the guidelines, these are the guardrails. This is what responsible use looks like day to day for our students and staff.’”

District leaders want policies that include GenAI and are complemented with supplemental materials.

District leaders indicated specific outputs they wanted from this working group to serve district faculty, staff, students, and community members.

Implementation and Practice

Policy alone is not sufficient. Participants emphasized the need for their AUPs to be complemented with strategies and ideas that support effective implementation for the overall district, with specific materials tailored to different audiences. There also needs to be evaluation resources, like rubrics, that would assess the AI tool itself and implementation of GenAI in learning experiences. In order to support implementation and evaluation, leaders emphasized that education leaders as a whole need to receive professional and personal learning opportunities that fit their contextual needs. These could come in the form of instructional training, practical guides, and resource toolkits.


Education leaders brought up their concerns on how their districts are reacting to GenAI. One common concern that emerged related to how district leaders respond and adapt to GenAI and technology policy. As one leader expressed, “When we adopt platforms, they may not be around in six to 12 months, but we will still be around, we’re still going to be having to adopt platforms, we’re still going to be having to educate kids. We’re still going to be having to create policies around all of these different things that are happening.” Many educational leaders are taking into account the institutional structures they face, while staying up to date on their use of current forms of technology.

Are you an educator and want to share how you and your school district have been using Artificial Intelligence in the classroom? Share your experiences with us!

Read about Digital Promise’s AI Literacy Framework.

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This project is supported by the National Science Foundation under grant 2334525. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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