Nearly three out of five states say they have defined what it means for students to be “media literate” and have implemented media-literacy standards, according to a recent survey–a result suggesting that states are beginning to address the importance of preparing students for an information-rich society, but they still have more work to do.

Called “The Changing Media Landscape: Ensuring Students’ Safety and Success in School and in the Future Workplace,” the survey was developed “to get a snapshot of how states are assisting schools to prepare today’s students to be ready for life, work, and citizenship in our increasingly digital world,” said Mary Ann Wolf, executive director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA).

SETDA developed and administered the survey in partnership with Cable in the Classroom (CIC), the cable industry’s education foundation. The two groups issued the results, along with a media-literacy toolkit that SETDA created to help promote “a systemic approach for [teaching] information and media literacy within our schools.”

According to SETDA and CIC, media literacy means knowing how to access, understand, analyze, evaluate, and create media messages on television, the internet, and other outlets. It also means “knowing how to use these and other technologies safely, productively, and ethically.”

For Doug Levin, senior director of education policy for CIC, which has been advocating for media-literacy education for more than 15 years, media literacy also means reevaluating definitions to fit 21st-century needs: “There are a host of new, exciting educational applications on the horizon, from virtual worlds like Second Life to educational games and online simulations,…that require a rethinking of what it means to be literate.”

The survey requested that states specify their guidelines for media literacy, and it asked them to rank their needs and areas of interest regarding media-literacy issues. According to SETDA, 38 states and the District of Columbia responded.

Of these respondents, 23 states (or 59 percent) said they define media or information literacy and have established standards for teaching media literacy. States that require statewide assessments of media-literacy skills include Hawaii, Michigan, New Hampshire, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Six states report having no plans to create media-literacy standards, according to the survey. (It does not name these states, and the survey’s sponsors did not supply this information before press time.)

Twenty-nine states said they have safety policies and/or guidelines to protect children from online predators, to protect personal information online, to prevent cyber bullying or hacking, and to counter copyright violations.

Only 21 states, however, said they have policies for teaching students how to access information online and how to determine the reliability, validity, and appropriateness of content.