New Law Establishes K-12 Information Literacy Education in NJ
Governor Phil Murphy yesterday signed legislation (S588) establishing the requirement of K-12 instruction on information literacy under the implementation of the New Jersey Student Learning Standards.
The bill requires the New Jersey Department of Education to develop New Jersey Student Learning Standards in “information literacy,” which is defined as a set of skills that enables an individual to recognize when information is needed and to locate, evaluate, and effectively use the needed information. Information literacy includes, but is not limited to, digital, visual, media, textual, and technological literacy.
“Our democracy remains under sustained attack through the proliferation of disinformation that is eroding the role of truth in our political and civic discourse,” said Governor Murphy. “It is our responsibility to ensure our nation’s future leaders are equipped with the tools necessary to identify fact from fiction.”
Primary sponsors of the bill include Senators Michael Testa and Shirley Turner, and Assemblymembers Daniel Benson, Pamela Lampitt, and Mila Jasey.
The bill requires the Commissioner of the Department of Education to convene a committee, including certified school library media specialists and teaching staff members, to assist in developing the information literacy standards. The standards will be reviewed by experts as they are developed.
The proposed information literacy standards will also be subject to public input prior to their adoption by the State Board of Education.
“Information literacy is more important now than ever before, especially with the growing prevalence of social media and online news,” said Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan, Acting Commissioner of Education. “Students for generations will be well-served by this legislation, which sets into statute the requirement for schools to provide instruction on information literacy.”
Every K-12 school district in New Jersey will include instruction on information literacy as part of its teaching curriculum. The guidelines will include, at a minimum, the following:
- the research process and how information is created and produced;
- critical thinking and using information resources;
- research methods, including the difference between primary and secondary sources;
- the difference between facts, points of view, and opinions;
- accessing peer-reviewed print and digital library resources;
- the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information; and
- the ethical production of information.
“This signing feels especially timely as we approach the two-year anniversary of the January 6th attack on the US Capitol. It is incredibly important that our children are taught how to discern reliable sources and recognize false information,” said Senator Shirley Turner. “This legislation will equip the next generation with the tools they need to spot deceptive sites and become savvy consumers of media.”
The legislation signed today also builds on New Jersey's commitment to addressing the threat of disinformation. In April 2022, the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness launched a disinformation portal to assist the public in identifying and vetting any truth-obscuring, manufactured information.
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