Illinois Longitudinal Data System

Infrastructure to Support Early Childhood Systems

  • Data Systems


Created in 2009, the Illinois State Board of Education’s Longitudinal Data System is a P-20 longitudinal data systemA P-20 longitudinal data system (LDS) “integrates unit-level, high-quality student, staff, and program data that are linked across entities and over time” and spans sectors from multiple early childhood programs to higher education or beyond. Source: Institute of Education Sciences. (n.d.). that includes data on state-funded pre-K, special education early childhood programs, and infant and toddler programs. The system functions as a warehouse and linking mechanism across state agencies, including the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development. The system links program and individual data ranging from early childhood education and care to K-12/higher education to the workforce. The individual data is deidentified with a unique identifier. Data is available internally for agencies and authorized users.

The Illinois Longitudinal Data System was created through Public Act 096-0107. The system has been funded by a federal Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems Grant and the Statewide Longitudinal Data System Recovery Act Grant, which authorized the expansion of infant and toddler data collection.

State of Illinois (2014). Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge 2014 Annual Performance Report
Education Commission of the States. (2021). Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems: Illinois.
REL Blog (2018). Building a coordinated data system to support early childhood education

Connections to Key Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) Findings:

Strong infrastructure and systems – including governance structures and data systems – are key aspects of high-quality early education and care. And research suggests there is a need for more accessible, affordable, and high-quality early education within a mixed-delivery system; strengthening infrastructure and systems is one important way states and cities can take action to address these needs and accomplish these goals.

Findings from the Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) that connect to the need for more robust infrastructure and systems, including data systems:

  • Families rely on a range of formal (e.g., Head Start, center-based care, public pre-K) and more informal (e.g., home-based, relative care) early education settings; when choosing a setting for their child, families balance many logistical constraints and personal preferences.
  • But for many families – and especially low- and middle-income families – early education choices remain tightly constrained due to issues of affordability and supply.
  • No one early education setting type is inherently of higher quality than another; children develop and learn well in every setting type, and in the study, all setting types showed room to grow in quality.
  • We have learned a great deal from this groundbreaking, large-scale study. Nevertheless, there is still much to learn about what children, families, and educators need, and about what “works” – for whom and under what circumstances – across all the diverse settings where young children learn and grow.
Learn More about ELS@H Findings

Learn more about Illinois

Context matters. Visit the Illinois profile page to learn more about its demographics, political landscape, early education programs, early education workforce, and funding sources and streams.

Visit the Illinois Profile Here
  • The state population is 12,582,032
  • The percentage of children under 6 with all available parents in the workforce is 70%
  • The rural percentage is 13.1%