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Standards Toolkit

The Illinois Arts Learning Standards, adopted in 2018, identify what is important for students to know and be able to do in the artistic disciplines of dance, media arts, music, theatre, and visual arts. They reinforce best practices in the classroom and provide updated guidance on what constitutes quality arts education.

This suite of tools and resources is designed to support CPS teachers, administrators, and other stakeholders as they work to align their curriculum, instruction, and assessment to the updated Standards and provide outstanding, rigorous arts education to students across the district.

Full Illinois Arts Learning Standards

Downloadable Illinois Arts Learning Standards: Access full PDF sets of standards for music, visual arts, theatre, dance, and media arts at this site, hosted by Arts Alliance Illinois.

David Tempone: Giuseppe’s Journey

David Tempone: Giuseppe’s Journey

Asynchronous Professional Learning Videos

Explore our Understanding by Design (UbD) video series, featuring concise breakdowns of key concepts. Discipline-specific examples accompany each topic, offering a detailed exploration of UbD principles.


Skyline – Arts Scopes & Sequences

As part of the district’s Curriculum Equity Initiative titled Skyline, the Department of Arts Education brought in national arts education experts from SEADAE to train a CPS arts teacher cohort in the development of comprehensive PreK - HS scopes & sequences for Dance, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts.

Arts Scopes & Sequences

Alana Smith: Snails on Mushrooms

Alana Smith: Snails on Mushrooms

Prioritized Illinois Arts Learning Standards

The first step for teacher teams was to unpack the Illinois Arts Learning Standards and identify the most important learning at each grade level, while working across grade levels to ensure vertical alignment and standards coverage throughout the entirety of a student’s arts education.

The resulting prioritized standards are the basis for the forthcoming scope and sequences for each discipline. These standards can be used by arts teachers looking to focus and streamline their instruction.

Each Google Folder linked below contains the following:

  • A Google Sheet that includes:
    • a summary of the prioritized standards (Tab 1)
    • the full Illinois Arts Learning Standards with the priority standards color-coded (Tab 2)
    • the full Illinois SEL Standards for integrated unit work (Tab 3)
  • A printable one-page PDF summary of the prioritized standards

Prioritized standards with a plus sign (+) indicate that standard has additional media arts standards integration suggestion within the scope and sequence document.

Prioritized Illinois Arts Learning Standards

To learn more about the prioritization process, read the Prioritized Arts Learning Standards Overview.

Ethan Rodriguez: Divine Feminine

Ethan Rodriguez: Divine Feminine

Standards Overview Documents

Illinois Arts Learning Standards Initiative Report: This report by the Standards Initiative group to the IL State Board of Education summarizes the update process, presents an overview of the standards, and outlines practical strategies for implementing them.

Artistic Processes and Anchor Standards: A one-pager detailing the four artistic processes (Create, Perform/Present/Produce, Respond, Connect) and all eleven anchor standards.

Amadi Jefferson: Abby x Axel

Amadi Jefferson: Abby x Axel

Resources for Standards-Based Instruction

Standards-Based Instruction Overview and Diagnostics

Best Practices in Standards-Based Arts Education: Six indicators of quality arts education (as defined by the Arts Instruction Specialist teachers and CPS Department of Arts Education) that support the Standards’ ultimate goal of artistic literacy.

Educator Reflection – Alignment to Best Practices: A tool for educators to reflect on where their own instructional and classroom practices align to best practices in standards-aligned arts education, and where there are areas for growth.

Best Practices: Closer-Look Resources

Student-Centered Learning: Developing Positive Disciplinary Identity: Standards-based arts classrooms should integrate student-centered instruction, curriculum, and assessment. This document takes a closer look at a first step toward student-centered learning—establishing conditions under which students develop positive disciplinary identities (the belief that they can and want to learn in a particular discipline).

Product-Based and Process-Based Arts Learning: Moving arts classrooms toward process-based learning is critical to meeting the updated Standards. This overview document details aspects of product-based vs. process-based learning in the arts, with examples from an early-elementary visual arts classroom.

Anonymous: Me, Myself, and I

Anonymous: Me, Myself, and I

Resources for Standards-Based Curriculum

Curriculum Alignment Diagnostic Tools

Educators can use these tools to get a big-picture view of how their units align to the performance standards, and to determine which standards/artistic processes need to be further addressed. Educators can choose primary (assessed) standards and secondary standards that they are hitting in each unit; the digital tool auto-tallies the standards that are hit across units and across the year. Further instructions can be downloaded below:

Instructions for Using the Curriculum Alignment Tool

Choose your discipline, then make your own copy of the corresponding tool in “My Drive” (or download it as an Excel file). Or select the PDF for a printable version that can be manually completed.

Educator Reflection – Curriculum Alignment to Standards: After completing their curriculum alignments (above), educators can use this form to reflect on where their units best align to performance standards and where there are areas for growth or adjustment.

Lesson and Unit Plan Templates

Arts Lesson Plan Template: A teacher-vetted Lesson Plan template for arts educators that aligns to standards and best practices.

Arts Unit Plan Template: A teacher-vetted Unit Plan template for arts educators that aligns to standards and best practices.

Daniel Villalobos: Temporary Gratification

Daniel Villalobos: Temporary Gratification

Resources for Standards-Based Assessment

Criteria for Quality Arts Assessments: Seven indicators of quality arts assessments (as defined by the CPS Department of Arts Education) that effectively scaffold, evaluate, and improve standards-based and standards-aligned learning.

Quality Arts Assessments: A Closer Look: Presentation slides from the Mastering the Standards: Aligning Assessment session (February 2019), offering a deeper dive into the seven indicators of quality arts assessment.

Educator Reflection - Quality Assessments: A tool for educators to reflect on where their own arts assessments align to criteria for high-quality assessments, and where there are areas for growth.

NCAS Model Cornerstone Assessments: These assessments, designed by and for arts educators, provide an instructional and assessment framework into which teachers can integrate their curriculum to help measure student learning in dance, media arts, music, theatre, and visual arts. These adaptable assessment tasks assist students through each of the artistic processes outlined in the National Core Arts Standards (on which the Illinois Arts Learning Standards are based), allowing them to demonstrate the quality of learning associated with the performance standards. NOTEIf using these assessments, educators should make sure that the National standards being assessed match the Illinois Arts Learning Standards; if not, the assessment should be revised.

Colin Moy: Sky n Sea/ on Air on Water

Colin Moy: Sky n Sea/ on Air on Water

Standards-Based Professional Learning

The Department of Arts Education offers multiple opportunities throughout each school year for CPS teachers and administrators to learn strategies and acquire tools for aligning curriculum, assessment, and instruction to the Illinois Arts Learning Standards and best practices, and to see standards-based teaching and learning in action.

Browse Arts Professional Learning

CPS Department of Arts Education


42 W. Madison St, 3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60602