New Jersey students will soon engage in information literacy education as part of their regular curriculum.
Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law Jan. 4 bipartisan legislation that would require the New Jersey Department of Education to develop information literacy requirements under the New Jersey Student Learning Standards.
“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 Murphy. “It is our responsibility to ensure our nation’s future leaders are equipped with the tools necessary to identify fact from fiction.”
The Governor defined information literacy “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.”
State Sen. Michael Testa (R-1), who served as one of the primary sponsors of the bill, noted the standards would help students to weigh the flood of news, opinion, and social media, both online and off.
The Goal of the Bill
“This law isn’t about teaching kids that any specific idea is true or false, rather it’s about helping them learn how to research, evaluate, and understand the information they are presented for themselves,” he said.
State Sen. Shirley Turner (D-15), who served as the Dems primary sponsor, said it would equip the next generation with the tools needed to preserve democracy and truth.
“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 Turner.
Developing Information Literacy Standards
Under the bill, the Commissioner of the Department of Education will be required to convene a committee to develop the new standards. Certified school library media specialists and teaching staff members would be included in the committee.
Each school district will incorporate instruction on information literacy in an appropriate place in the curriculum for students in grades kindergarten through 12, and will be focused by at least seven guidelines:
- 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.
“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.”
The standards would be reviewed by experts as developed, providing an opportunity for collaboration among stakeholders. A public comment period would be established before adoption by the State Board of Education.