Equity & Learning

School District 21 has developed a core curriculum based on the Illinois Learning Standards, which are intended to serve as the basis for student learning and assessment in Illinois. The School District 21 curriculum is based on the understanding that, due to the pace of technological change and the development of an interdependent international economy and workforce, we cannot predict the full range of specific knowledge and skills that our students will require for success. At the same time, there are critical basic skills that serve as the foundation for success in reading, writing, and mathematics. By focusing on balanced instruction that includes critical thinking about high-level concepts, instruction and practice with basic academic skills, a focus on the Learner Qualities, and the Illinois Social Emotional Learning Standards, CCSD21 students will be well-prepared as life-long learners for high school, college, and beyond.

The School District 21 Curriculum goes through a regular review cycle led by the Department of Equity and Learning. This cycle includes matching the curriculum’s alignment with the Illinois Learning Standards, verification of the degree to which the curriculum is being taught, and ensuring that the best resources are available to teachers and students for different components of the curriculum.




CCSD21 Curriculum



Concepts are abstract, timeless, and universal ideas. When students deeply understand concepts, they can more easily learn new knowledge by thinking about it in the context of these concepts that anchor our knowledge. Concepts can be defined in one or two words.

Essential Understandings

Essential understandings define the relationship between two or more concepts. They require students to have deep understanding of each concept and to be able to transfer this knowledge to new situations. Students arrive at essential understandings as a result of their study throughout an instructional unit.

Guiding Questions

Guiding questions are explored with students throughout the unit of instruction, and as a result of their studies and their reflection upon the guiding questions, students can arrive at the essential understandings.

Learning21 Principles

The Learning21 Principles were designed with the future of today’s students in mind. These principles guide how students’ learning environments should look and feel and be in order to prepare them for success and to be able to contribute in a rapidly changing, information-based, global community.

Learner Qualities

The Learner Qualities are taught and assessed throughout the day as critical attributes necessary in our modern world for success in both society and the workplace.

Middle School Report Cards

Middle School students receive a report card at the end of each trimester. The report card shares information on student progress in academic and learner quality areas. Click here to learn about the middle school report card grading scale.



For monthly updates from the Equity & Learning team, please go here.