Media Literacy & Digital Citizenship Legislation & Policies
School districts must adopt, implement, and enforce an Electronic Resources & Internet Safety Policy that includes educating students about appropriate online behavior. Similarly, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) have developed educational technology learning standards and is working on assessments. Below are detailed legislation and policies in place to ensure Media Literacy and Digital Citizenship instruction for Washington state students.
School District Requirements
- Adopt, implement, and enforce an Electronic Resources & Internet Safety Policy that includes educating students about appropriate online behavior.
- Review Electronic Resources & Internet Safety Policy annually.
- Provide opportunities for students to develop the knowledge and skills essential to integrate technology literacy and fluency, including information skills and digital citizenship.
- Adopt and implement Electronic Resources & Internet Safety Policy
The Telecommunications Act imposes requirements on schools that receive discounts for the E-rate program. School districts must submit to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) “a certification that an Internet safety policy has been adopted and implemented for the school” and “that the school, school board, local educational agency, or other authority with responsibility for administration of the school…is enforcing a policy of Internet safety for minors that includes monitoring the online activities of minors and the operation of a technology protection measure with respect to any of its computers with Internet access…”
The policy must address “access by minors to inappropriate matter on the Internet and World Wide Web; the safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms, and other forms of direct electronic communications; unauthorized access, including so-called ‘hacking’, and other unlawful activities by minors online; [and] unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of personal identification information regarding minors...”
In addition, each school district must confirm that it is “educating minors about appropriate online behavior, including interacting with other individuals on social networking websites and in chat rooms and cyberbullying awareness and response.”
The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 is also relevant to district policies. It helps inform data-privacy agreements with companies that collect personal information from minors who access their online services.
- Review Electronic Resources & Internet Safety Policy Annually
This law states that, in reviewing and amending the policy and procedures, a school district must:
- involve a representation of students, parents or guardians, teachers, teacher-librarians, other school employees, administrators, and community representatives with experience or expertise in digital citizenship, media literacy, and internet safety issues;
- consider customizing WSSDA's model policy and procedures on electronic resources and internet safety [see below];
- consider existing school district resources; and
- consider best practices, resources, and models for instruction in digital citizenship, internet safety, and media literacy, including methods to involve parents.
Recommended Model Policy
RCW 28A.650.045 was amended by SSB 5449 (2017) to include a requirement that the Washington State School Directors Association (WSSDA), in partnership with OSPI, develop a model policy for school districts to use, along with a procedures document. (These documents may not be distributed without written permission of WSSDA.)
WSSDA also developed a checklist of considerations for districts to use when updating their policy and procedures. It includes a list of questions regarding the integration of Media Literacy & Digital Citizenship into the district’s policies and procedures, as well as into the curriculum.
- Provide opportunities for students to develop the knowledge and skills essential to integrate technology literacy and fluency
Required by state law: RCW 28A.150.210 (2011).
One of the four goals for school districts in the Basic Education law is that students should be able to: “Think analytically, logically, and creatively, and to integrate technology literacy and fluency as well as different experiences and knowledge to form reasoned judgments and solve problems…”
A key finding included in the law is that: “…technology can be effectively integrated into other K-12 core subjects that students are expected to know and be able to do. Integration of knowledge and skills in technology literacy and fluency into other subjects will engage and motivate students to explore high-demand careers…and fields that demand the collaborative information skills and technological fluency of digital citizenship.”
- Develop educational technology learning standards and assessments (which include media literacy and digital citizenship standards).
- Identify and develop open educational resources that support the teaching of media literacy, digital citizenship, and internet safety.
- Develop best practices for instruction in media literacy, digital citizenship, and internet safety.
- Develop Educational Technology Standards
Required by state law: RCW 28A.655.075 (2007).
The law required that, by December 1, 2008, OSPI would “develop essential academic learning requirements and grade level expectations for educational technology literacy and technology fluency that identify the knowledge and skills that all public school students need to know and be able to do in the areas of technology and technology literacy.” It also required that OSPI would “obtain or develop educational technology assessments that may be administered…to assess the essential academic learning requirements for technology."
It defined “technology literacy” as the “ability to responsibly, creatively, and effectively use appropriate technology to communicate; access, collect, manage, integrate, and evaluate information; solve problems and create solutions; build and share knowledge; and improve and enhance learning in all subject areas and experiences.”
OSPI developed Educational Technology Standards in 2008 and updated them in 2018.
Educational Technology Assessments were embedded in Classroom-Based Assessments for Social Studies, Health, and other subject areas. As of December 2021, the assessments are being updated to integrate the most recent educational technology standards, including media literacy and digital citizenship standards.
According to RCW 28A.655.075, the assessments are available for school districts’ voluntary use. If assessments are used, the school district must notify OSPI of that use.
- Create a web-based location successful practices and resources
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction “must create a web-based location with links to recommended successful practices and resources to support digital citizenship, media literacy, and Internet safety.”
The web-based location is the OER Commons Washington Hub.
- Develop best practices and recommendations for instruction
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction “must develop best practices and recommendations for instruction in digital citizenship, Internet safety, and media literacy…”
Required by state law RCW 28A.650.045.
SSB 6273 (2016) was not just the first bill related to Media Literacy & Digital Citizenship passed in the state—it was the first in the nation. The best practices should cover “instruction that provides guidance about thoughtful, safe, and strategic uses of online and other media resources, and education on how to apply critical thinking skills when consuming and producing information…” and be developed in consultation with an advisory committee.
The best practices are covered in the Digital Citizenship Report to the Legislature created by the Advisory Committee (see below).
- OSPI must convene and consult with an advisory committee when developing best practices and recommendations for instruction in digital citizenship, internet safety, and media literacy.
- OSPI must survey teacher-librarians, principals, and technology directors to understand how they are currently integrating digital citizenship and media literacy education in their curriculum.
- Convene and consult with an advisory committee when developing best practices and recommendations
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction “must convene and consult with an advisory committee when developing best practices and recommendations for instruction in digital citizenship, internet safety, and media literacy.”
Required by state law: RCW 28A.650.045. The Advisory Committee worked 2016-2017 and came up with the following recommendations:
- Convene a working group to update the state K-12 learning standards for educational technology that align with the advisory group's definitions of digital citizenship and media literacy, national standards, and learning standards in all subjects. [This was done in 2018.]
- Consider possible revisions to district policies to better support digital citizenship, media literacy, or Internet safety in schools. [This was addressed in SSB 5449 (2017).]
- Create a web-based location to recommend successful practices and resources and work with the K-12 community and other stakeholders to identify and develop additional Open Educational Resources to support digital citizenship, media literacy, and internet safety in schools. [This was addressed in SSB 5449 (2017).]
- Provide support for professional development for teachers, focused on integrating digital citizenship and media literacy in all core standards, starting with English Language Arts and Social Studies. [This was not addressed.]
- Examine improvements in districts' library information and technology programs as defined in state law to determine ways in which teacher-librarians can lead, teach and support digital citizenship and media literacy across all grades and content areas. [This was not addressed.]
- Survey teacher-librarians, principals, and technology directors to understand digital citizenship and media literacy integration
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction “must survey teacher-librarians, principals, and technology directors to understand how they are currently integrating digital citizenship and media literacy education in their curriculum.”
Required by SSB 5449 (2017). Responses to the 2018 survey were provided by 249 of 295 districts, and 1,111 of approximately 2,250 school buildings.