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2013 Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards

Illinois Early Learning & Development Standards

I am pleased to introduce to you the revised Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards 2013 (IELDS), formerly known as the Illinois Early Learning Standards. The purpose of the updated IELDS is to assist the Illinois early childhood community in providing high-quality programs and services for children age 3 years to kindergarten enrollment (as defined in Section 10-20-2012 of the School Code).

The standards are organized to parallel content in the Illinois State Goals for Learning (see 23 Illinois Administrative Code 1. Appendix D). The revised standards also demonstrate alignment to the Illinois Kindergarten Standards and the Common Core State Standards for Kindergarten. (For specifics, see the Kindergarten Common Core Language Standards and the Kindergarten Common Core Mathematics.)

The original Illinois Early Learning Standards document, published in 2002, was developed by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) with assistance from the Chicago Public Schools, DeKalb Community Unit School District, Indian Prairie School District, and Rockford Public School District.

The development of the revised IELDS includes additional assistance from the Erikson Institute in Chicago as well as eight content-area experts who are nationally and internationally known leaders in the field of early childhood education.

The Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards are broad statements that provide teachers with reasonable expectations for children’s development in the preschool years. Based on the broad Illinois State Goals and Standards (see Illinois Administrative Code, Section 235, Appendix A), this resource includes Preschool Benchmarks and Performance Descriptors for most Learning Standards. It is critical to remember that while these standards represent an alignment with the K-12 standards, the IELDS are not a “push-down” of the curriculum; rather, they are a developmentally appropriate set of goals and objectives for young children. Early learners must develop basic skills, understandings, and attitudes toward learning before they can be successful in the K-12 curriculum.

The challenge when describing children’s development in various domains is to accurately convey the degree to which development and learning are interconnected across and within domains. An integrated approach to curriculum recognizes that content areas of instruction are naturally interrelated, as they are in real life experiences. Curriculum should reflect a conceptual organization that helps all children make good sense of their experiences.

The revised IELDS were reviewed and critiqued by early childhood professionals from public and private schools, Head Start, colleges, and community-based early care and learning programs. Recommendations from these stakeholders and users were considered and incorporated into the revisions. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) acknowledges and is grateful for the very thoughtful and knowledgeable comments that have helped shape these standards.

Cindy Zumwalt
Division Administrator
Early Childhood Education
Illinois State Board of Education

Additional Resources

Visit the Additional Resources page for IELDS Resources.

Tools for Teachers

Links to resources for the Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards created by the Early Childhood Center of Professional Development in Arlington Heights.

IELDS Webinar

This webinar provides a short overview of the Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards. It also provides a tour of the resources available on the Illinois Early Learning Project website that can support the use of the early learning standards in practice and at home.

Print Version

llinois Early Learning and Development Standards for Preschool (ages 3 to kindergarten enrollment age)


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The opinions, resources, and referrals provided on the IEL Web site are intended for informational purposes only and are not intended to take the place of medical or legal advice, or of other appropriate services. We encourage you to seek direct local assistance from a qualified professional if necessary before taking action.

The content of the IEL Web site does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Illinois Early Learning Project, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, or the Illinois State Board of Education; nor does the mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the Illinois Early Learning Project, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, or the Illinois State Board of Education.