Tennessee Legislators Requiring Schools and Colleges to Develop Their Own AI Policies

Tennessee legislators are considering a proposal looking to require public K-12 schools and colleges to develop their own AI policies.


If the proposed law is passed, schools and colleges will be required to create policies governing the use of artificial intelligence by July 1.


Tennessee K-12 public schools, as well as charter schools, might soon be mandated to formulate their individual policies regarding artificial intelligence, as a proposal currently under review by state lawmakers.


HB 1630 would require local school boards to adopt measures on how students, teachers and staff use AI “for instructional and assignment purposes.” These measures would need to be reported to the Tennessee Department of Education by July 1, outlining the enforcement mechanisms for the adopted AI policies during the 2024-25 school year.


Tennessee schools would have just months to develop a policy if the legislation becomes law. Additionally, the state’s education department has yet to provide comprehensive official guidance on AI for schools, and there’s no indication from state officials that such guidance will be forthcoming in the near future.




The pending Tennessee bill seems to be the pioneering piece of legislation among states, directing schools to formulate their own AI policies, as noted by Bree Dusseault, Principal and Managing Director at the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE).


CRPE, a research organization based at Arizona State University, is actively monitoring states’ efforts regarding AI use in schools. While some states are in the early stages of providing guidance, Dusseault says that most assistance on AI in schools currently comes from state education agencies. Presently, five state education departments, including California, Oregon, Washington, North Carolina, and West Virginia, have released K-12 guidance on AI.


Regarding the Tennessee Department of Education’s plans for statewide AI guidance, Brian Blackley, the department’s Director of Media, stated that they would offer guidance to districts as necessary if HB 1630 passes.


The bill also requires public colleges and universities to establish separate AI policies from K-12 schools. No additional state resources are attached to the bill, with legislators expecting minimal fiscal impact, noting that schools can use existing resources.


Dusseault said the Tennessee bill stands out because schools will have to quickly figure out their own AI policies without any current guidance from the state.


“Any bill to create those policies would, I think, ideally have some resources attached,” Dusseault said. “There’s a question of how much of this responsibility will fall on superintendents’ plates and school boards’ plates.”


CRPE has interviewed superintendents in focus groups about AI, she said. While district leaders want to get AI use policies in their schools right, they are overwhelmed with many other responsibilities like post-pandemic recovery. “They don’t always feel up to speed or fully literate on AI, and so they really are looking for guidance.”


“Any legislation would ideally ensure that there is resourcing alongside it, especially given that there is an expectation that the policies are in place presumably in seven or eight months,” Dusseault said.


With HB 1630’s progress, Tennessee seems keen on seizing the opportunity to address AI use in educational institutions proactively.


During a Tennessee House Education Administration Committee meeting, the bill’s author, Rep. Scott Cepicky, said AI can be a strong asset for students and teachers, as seen in emerging tutoring tools. But more needs to be explored about this technology in schools beyond those benefits, he said.


“I think this is the beginning of a process in artificial intelligence in Tennessee,” Cepicky said. “It’s something we’re going to have to be very flexible on, because it’s going to continue to change every day, every hour, every minute.”


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