Testimony on SB 171 (Student-Centered Learning Pilot Program)

Testimony presented Feb. 12 by Stan Rasmussen, director of public affairs, Sutherland Institute, before the Senate Education Standing Committee of the Utah Legislature regarding SB 171 – Student-Centered Learning Pilot Program:

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and good afternoon, Senators. Stan Rasmussen, representing Sutherland Institute.

We commend Senator Stephenson for his efforts in developing this proposal and bringing it forward.

As has been described, the bill establishes a pilot program wherein school districts would develop a blended-learning program for elementary and secondary students.

The blended approach, that includes digital-learning methods and experiences, allows for the personalizing and customizing of a child’s education. Instead of simply perpetuating the standardization of what and in what order the student learns, a more blended approach has the potential to tap into and encourage the child’s inherent desire to learn. Instead of the child being in a large group of students trying to learn the same things, in very similar ways, at the same time – notwithstanding the dedicated efforts of a caring teacher tasked with managing the large group – the enhanced personalization available in a blended approach increases the opportunity for the student to learn in his or her individual manner and sequence.

The proposed pilot program would create a context for developing and refining approaches that respect and reflect the fact that individual children learn differently – in different ways, at different times and at different rates – and thereby a context for improved student learning.

For these reasons, we consider it prudent to explore how to bring this potential into public education schools by means of the proposed Student-Centered Learning Pilot Program and urge your support of this bill.

Thank you.