Illinois Learning Standards
District 401's curriculum is fully aligned to the Illinois Learning Standards (ILS), which establish expectations for what all Illinois students should know and be able to do in each of their subjects at every grade level.
Emphasizing depth over breadth, the ILS build upon key concepts as students advance through their schooling. The standards promote active learning and the application of knowledge to real-world situations, helping students develop a deep conceptual understanding of their instructional material.
Intentionally rigorous, the ILS prepare students for the challenges of college and career.
What Do the Standards Cover?
The Illinois standards cover 10 areas: early learning and development, English language arts, English learning, fine arts, foreign language, math, physical development and health, science, social and emotional learning, and social science.
To learn more about the standards in these areas, click the rows located directly below or visit the links located on the left-hand side of this page.
The Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards (IELDS) provide reasonable expectations for children’s growth, development and learning in the preschool years.
When used as part of the curriculum, the IELDS provide guidance to teachers in early childhood programs to create and sustain developmentally appropriate experiences for young children that will strengthen their intellectual dispositions and support their continuing success as learners and students.
The age-appropriate benchmarks in the IELDS enable educators to reflect upon and evaluate the experiences they provide for all preschool children.
Illinois adopted the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts (ELA) in 2010 to serve as the state standards for that subject.
The Illinois Learning Standards for ELA establish clear and coherent expectations for what students should know and be able to do at each grade level. By emphasizing depth over breadth, the standards ensure students are provided comprehensive understanding of key concepts.
The ILS for ELA set a level of high quality, rigorous expectations for all students. The standards emphasize application of knowledge to real world situations, preparing students for the challenges of college and career.
Illinois uses the WIDA Consortium's English language development standards as the state standards for English learners (EL).
WIDA, based at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, established these standards to indicate the language skills that EL students need to be successful in early childhood programs and grades K-12.
The first standard — "Social and Instructional Language" — focuses on the language students use to interact socially and establish working relationships with peers and teachers in ways that support learning.
The remaining four standards focus on the languages of language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. They represent the academic languages that students use to engage with their peers, teachers and school curriculum.
Together, the WIDA standards highlight the language skills needed to meet academic expectations as described by state, college and career readiness standards, and other content standards such as Next Generation Science Standards.
The Illinois Learning Standards for Fine Arts reflect best practices and address the curricular areas of visual arts, music, theater, dance and media arts.
Standards under each of these curricular areas emphasize learning through the artistic process.
Four artistic processes are addressed in the standards:
- Performing / Producing / Presenting
The standards are organized around both enduring understandings and essential questions to help both educators and students focus on the significant "big ideas" within the fine arts.
Illinois adopted the Common Core Standards for Mathematics in 2010 to serve as the state standards for that subject.
The Illinois Learning Standards for Math are designed to help students acquire a deep, conceptual understanding of core math content by adding focus, coherence and rigor to learning.
"Focus" means the study of a few key concepts — that is, shifting the model of teaching and learning from a mile long and an inch deep to a deeper understanding of essential concepts.
"Coherence" means making math connections between grade levels logical, allowing students to build those connections as they progress through their curriculum.
"Rigor" means the equal balance of conceptual understanding, application, and procedural skill and fluency.
These key shifts in math teaching and learning focus on concept mastery, and they enable students to build upon previous skills, creating opportunities for deeper conceptual mathematical understanding and application.
The Illinois Learning Standards for Physical Development and Health were developed using the National Standards for Physical Education, the National Health Education Standards, the 1985 State Goals for Physical Development and Health, and other states' standards and local outcomes from Illinois school districts.
Comprehensive physical development and health programs offer great potential for enhancing the capacity of students' minds and bodies. Extensive research connects the ability to learn to good health.
The Illinois standards focus on enabling students to achieve six goals through physical fitness activity and health education:
- Acquire movement and motor skills and understand concepts necessary to engage in moderate to vigorous physical activity.
- Achieve and maintain a health-enhancing level of physical fitness based upon continual self-assessment.
- Develop skills necessary to become a successful member of a team by working with others during physical activity.
- Understand principles of health promotion and the prevention and treatment of illness and injury.
- Understand human body systems and factors that influence growth and development.
- Promote and enhance health and well-being through the use of effective communication and decision-making skills.
The current Illinois Learning Standards in Science became effective in February 2014 and are based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
Forty-one experts, including three Illinois educators, wrote the NGSS. State-level committees in 26 states reviewed the learning benchmarks.
These groups confirmed that the design and development of the NGSS were guided by the best available evidence to ensure that students who meet these standards are prepared for post-secondary education and careers in the 21st century.
The ILS for Science are designed to help students acquire a deep understanding of core science and engineering content and ideas as well as experience applying that knowledge in any context.
One of the biggest shifts in the standards is how they encourage students to engage with science through integrated and interrelated concepts. They represent a rethinking of what it means to be "literate" in science by including the use of technology, critical thinking and analytical skills.
The standards call for students to demonstrate their scientific proficiency by engaging in practices that demonstrate their ability to apply scientific concepts to real-world situations. The standards also introduce science at an earlier age, when children have many questions about the world and how it works. They build on children's inherent curiosity.
Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through students acquire the knowledge, attitudes and skills they need to recognize and manage their emotions, demonstrate caring and concern for others, establish positive relationships, make responsible decisions and
handle challenging situations constructively.
There is a strong research base indicating that these SEL competencies improve students' social/emotional development, readiness to learn, classroom behavior and academic performance.
The Illinois Social and Emotional Learning Standards were initially developed by a broadly representative group of teachers, school administrators, student support staff, human services professionals and parents with expertise in child development and learning, curriculum design and instruction. After the standards were written, public comment and feedback were used in revising the standards before final adoption.
The standards focus on enabling students to achieve three main goals:
- Develop self-awareness and self-management skills to achieve school and life success.
- Use social-awareness and interpersonal skills to establish and maintain positive relationships.
- Demonstrate decision-making skills and responsible behaviors in personal, school, and community contexts.
The Illinois Social Science Standards are designed to ensure that students across Illinois focus on a common set of standards that promote the development of the knowledge and skills necessary for success in college, career and civic life (C3) in the 21st century.
The vision supporting this design is to produce Illinois graduates who are civically engaged, socially responsible, culturally aware and financially literate. Teachers facilitate this process by giving students opportunities to work collaboratively as well as individually.
The ILS for Social Science cultivate civic mindedness, historical thinking, economic decision making, geographic reasoning, and psychological and sociological intellect across all disciplines and grade levels. Embedded within a variety of courses, the standards do not necessarily require stand-alone courses but do reflect state-mandated content.
The standards fall into two complementary categories: inquiry skills and disciplinary concepts. Inquiry skills involve questioning, investigating, reasoning and responsible action while disciplinary concepts make use of social science ideas, principles and content to pursue answers to the questions generated by student inquiries.
The Illinois Learning Standards for World Languages guide learners to develop competence in five goal areas:
- Communication — to communicate effectively in more than one language in order to function in a variety of situations and for multiple purposes.
- Cultures — to interact with cultural competence and understanding.
- Connections — to connect with other disciplines and acquire information and diverse perspectives in order to use the language to function in academic and career-related situations.
- Comparisons — to develop insight into the nature of language and culture in order to interact with cultural competence.
- Communities — to communicate and interact with cultural competence in order to participate in multilingual communities at home and around the world.
These goal areas stress the application of learning a language beyond the instructional setting. The standards prepare learners to apply their skills and understandings so they can bring a global competence to their future careers and experiences.