Illinois Learning Standards

ScienceStudents with teacher working on science project in the classroom

The Illinois Learning Standards for Science were developed using the 1985 State Goals for Science, the National Science Education Standards, various other state and national works, and local education standards contributed by team members.

Science is a creative endeavor of the human mind. It offers a special perspective of the natural world in terms of understanding and interaction. The aim of science education is to develop in learners a rich and full understanding of the inquiry process; the key concepts and principles of life sciences, physical science, and earth and space sciences; and issues of science, technology, and society in historical and contemporary contexts. The National Science Education Standards present these understandings and their interactions with the natural world as eight science content standard categories. The Illinois Learning Standards for Science integrate these categories into a powerful resource for the design and evaluation of science curricula taught in Illinois schools.

The Illinois Learning Standards for Science are organized by goals that inform one another and depend upon one another for meaning. Expectations for learners related to the inquiry process are presented in standards addressing the doing of science and elements of technological design. Unifying concepts connect scientific understanding and process and are embedded in standards spanning life science, physical science, and earth and space science. The importance of this knowledge and its application is conveyed in standards describing the conventions and nature of the scientific enterprise and the interplay among science, technology and society in past, present and future contexts.

Applications of Learning

Through Applications of Learning, students demonstrate and deepen their understanding of basic knowledge and skills. These applied learning skills cross academic disciplines and reinforce the important learning of the disciplines. The ability to use these skills will greatly influence students' success in school, in the workplace and in the community.

Solving Problems

Recognize and investigate problems; formulate and propose solutions supported by reason and evidence.

Asking questions and seeking answers are at the heart of scientific inquiry. Following the steps of scientific inquiry, students learn how to gather evidence, review and understand their findings, and compare their solutions with those of others. They learn that there can be differing solutions to the same problem, some more useful than others. In the process, they learn and apply scientific principles. They also learn to be objective in deciding whether their solutions meet specifications and perform as desired.


Express and interpret information and ideas.

Scientists must carefully describe their methods and results to a variety of audiences, including other scientists. This requires precise and complete descriptions and the presentation of conclusions supported by evidence. Young science students develop the powers of observation and description. Older students gain the ability to organize and study data, to determine its meaning, to translate their findings into clear understandable language and to compare their results with those of other investigators.

Using Technology

Use appropriate instruments, electronic equipment, computers and networks to access information, process ideas and communicate results.

Technology is invented and improved by the use of scientific principles. In turn, scientists depend on technology in performing experiments, analyzing data and communicating the results. Science students learn to use a range of technologies: instruments, computer hardware and software, on-line services and equipment, primary source data and images, and communication networks. They learn how technology, in turn, is the result of a scientific design process that includes continual refinements and improvements.

Working on Teams

Learn and contribute productively as individuals and as members of groups.

The practical application of science requires both individual and group efforts. Individuals bring unique insight and focus to the work of inquiry and problem solving. Working in groups, scientists pose questions, share hypotheses, divide their experimental efforts, and share data and results. Science students have the opportunity to work both ways—as individuals and as members of teams organized to conduct complex investigations and solve problems.

Making Connections

Recognize and apply connections of important information and ideas within and among learning areas.

Science has many disciplines, all interrelated. Understanding the functioning of living things depends on knowing chemistry; understanding chemistry depends on knowing physics. In the same way, science itself is highly dependent on mathematics—and it also relates strongly to medicine, geography, physical development and health, social trends and issues, and many other topics. Science, at its best, provides knowledge and skills that improve the understanding of virtually all subjects.