NEW JERSEY – Governor Phil Murphy Friday signed legislation (S588) establishing the requirement of K-12 instruction on information literacy under the implementation of the New Jersey Student Learning Standards.
The signing of this bipartisan legislation reaffirms the Governor’s commitment to leading the nation in public education while preparing students for lifelong learning by equipping them with the skills they need to accurately assess information.
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,” Murphy said. “It is our responsibility to ensure our nation’s future leaders are equipped with the tools necessary to identify fact from fiction. I am proud to sign legislation that is critical to the success of New Jersey’s students and essential to the preservation of our democracy.”
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. This will provide an opportunity for collaboration among teachers and school library media specialists to advance information literacy in the K-12 learning standards. 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.”
Each school district will incorporate instruction on information literacy in an appropriate place in the curriculum of students in grades kindergarten through 12 as part of the district’s implementation of the New Jersey Student Learning Standards.
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.
The legislation signed today also builds on the Governor’s overarching 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.