Illinois Arts Learning Standards Initiative: Recommendations for Updated Arts Learning Standards and Their Implementation
Arts and media are continuously evolving, and arts learning standards must be re-envisioned to be fresh and relevant. The current Illinois Learning Standards for Fine Arts, however, are based upon a thirty-year-old framework: the National Standards for Arts Education, 1985 State Goals for Fine Arts.8 Illinois last updated its arts learning standards in 1997, and technology, education policy, and artistic mediums have changed considerably since then. It is time to bring Illinois’ arts learning standards into the 21st Century. Several developments set the stage for modernizing the standards. In 2013, Arts Alliance Illinois formed the statewide Illinois Arts Education Advisory Committee to develop a common agenda for improving arts education access, equity, and quality in Illinois. The committee identified a set of essential policy goals, including the need to update the state’s arts learning standards. The committee’s work coincided with efforts at the national level. At that time, the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards (NCCAS) was entering the second year of a threeyear process to create new national standards. The coalition consists of groups such as the College Board, State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education, and Americans for the Arts. It released new national standards – the National Core Arts Standards (NCAS)9 – in June 2014.
Meanwhile, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) was conducting a comprehensive review of the state’s standards overall, discipline by discipline. The ISBE Board adopted new standards for Math and English Language Arts in 2010 and for Physical Education in 2013. In 2014, it adopted new Science standards and began the review for Social Science. Attention then turned to the Arts.
After more than a year of statewide outreach and consensus building, the Illinois Arts Learning Standards Initiative has developed comprehensive recommendations for updating the state’s arts learning standards to reflect best practices. This report summarizes the process and presents the recommended standards. It also outlines practical strategies for implementing the standards successfully.