Illinois to require media literacy unit in public high schools


Abigail Culcasi

Illinois will begin to implement media literacy lessons in fall of 2022.

Abigail Culcasi, Photo/Graphics Editor

Starting in the 2022-2023 school year, all public high schools in Illinois will be required to teach a unit on media literacy. This new regulation, which was signed into a law on July 7, 2021, makes Illinois the first state in the country to do so.

Media literacy is defined in House Bill 234 as “the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, create and communicate using a variety of objective forms, including, but not limited to print, visual, audio, interactive and digital texts.”

This unit will encompass many aspects of media. This includes how to access media, how to determine the accuracy of information presented, how to create media, how to reflect on the emotional impact of media and the social responsibility of being conscious about media sharing.

The goal of this unit is to prepare students to become informed adults who know how to differentiate fact from fiction, especially because the majority of information consumed comes from potentially false or misleading media posts. According to Pew Research Center, 86% of surveyed adult Americans get news from a phone, tablet or electronic device.

DGS English Department Chair Tracy Sebastian shared that many aspects of research are already incorporated into social studies and English classes. Once the school receives guidance from the state, DGS will be able to determine where instruction will need to be added to meet the requirements.

DGS students are confident that this unit will be a success. Sophomore Taylor Mitchell believes that this unit will help schools inform students on how to interact with the media they see every day.

“With cell phones, media is everywhere all the time but you never really know who is putting it out or if it is reliable. Understanding the purpose for different types of media, learning how to figure out if what you are viewing is credible and comprehending how media is used to influence its audience are important steps to take as a consumer,” Mitchell said.

Junior Madeleine Kelly believes that learning about media literacy will also be beneficial.

“I think that this unit will be helpful because students will be able to accurately react to media. This would be helpful for students in their day to day lives,” Kelly said.