Governor Signs Information Literacy Bill Into Law
On Wednesday January 4th, Governor Murphy signed S-588 into law, legislation that establishes a requirement of K-12 instruction on information literacy under the implementation of the New Jersey Student Learning Standards (NJSLS). The new law directs the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) to develop a separate content area in the NJ Student Learning Standards In information and media literacy. NJPSA, along with other leading education stakeholder groups, was able to work with the sponsors on securing several key amendments to this bill as it moved through the legislative process.
The bill requires the Commissioner of the NJDOE 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.
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:
(1) the research process and how information is created and produced;
(2) critical thinking and using information resources;
(3) research methods, including the difference between primary and secondary sources;
(4) the difference between facts, points of view, and opinions;
(5) accessing peer-reviewed print and digital library resources;
(6) the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information; and
(7) the ethical production of information.
Under the bill, “information literacy,” 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.
As originally drafted, the bill would have required the NJ Commissioner of Education to develop curriculum guidelines on information literacy to be used by school districts. Since every local school district writes its own curriculum that is based on the New Jersey Student Learning Standards, NJPSA thought that directing the Commissioner of Education to instead establish a learning standard for information literacy (rather than curriculum guidelines) would be a more comprehensive and more effective approach.
NJPSA was also able to secure a minor, technical change to the bill to replace the term “teachers” with the phrase “teaching staff member” in order to include anyone with an instructional certificate – including curriculum supervisors who are usually included in these discussions due to their expertise.
P.L.2022, c.138 takes effect immediately, however, the new information literacy standard adopted by the State Board of Education will occur concurrently with the regularly scheduled updates to the NJSLS required pursuant to existing law.
NJPSA is proud to have been a part of the work that ensures that New Jersey will be the first state in the nation to equip our students with the skills they need to accurately assess the proliferation of information that is available in this digital age. We believe that this skill set – of knowing not only how to search for resources, but how to find the best and most trusted sources and how to thoughtfully evaluate the information gleaned from those sources is a crucial skill for our students in their future learning, particularly as our use of technology only increases. If you have any questions about this new law, please reach out to NJPSA Government Relations Director Debbie Bradley firstname.lastname@example.org or Assistant Director Jennie Lamon email@example.com.