Behning: Driving student success through personalized learning

Posted by: Samantha Holifield  | Friday, February 24, 2017 2:23 pm

Ensuring students have access to an education that best suits their needs is extremely important to me. I have been working toward this goal throughout most of my time serving as your state representative, and I have been especially diligent in the last few years as the chair of the House Committee on Education. One way we can provide the best education and drive student success is allowing a child to move at his or her own pace in order to master a set of skills. One of my pieces of legislation this session would establish a competency-based education pilot program in up to five, K-12 school corporations in Indiana. 

We ask a lot of our teachers. We ask them to take a class of 20 to 30 students, each with unique learning styles and skill levels, and advance them to the next grade by the end of the school year. In this traditional setting, an educator is often forced to teach to the average student. While this method benefits many students, children who are ahead of the class are held back, and those who lag behind continue to struggle. Under a competency-based education model, students are able to work at their own pace, spending as much time as they need on any topic. This personalized, student-centered approach keeps kids engaged and helps prevent a student from becoming bored or overwhelmed in course work.

Students who are more skilled in a subject can continue to work ahead, instead of being forced to review concepts that they have already mastered, while a student struggling with a skill can devote more time to understanding a concept. This allows a teacher to direct his or her attention to the students who need more instruction.

My legislation would give schools the flexibility to fully implement competency-based education programs in their classrooms. Already, Warren Township in Marion County implemented personalized learning programs in their schools, and they are currently moving toward a competency-based education model. By exploring this innovative education model, Indiana would be joining other state leaders like Idaho and Ohio that have created similar pilot programs. A shift toward competency-based education would help Hoosier students succeed and remain prepared for the ever-changing workforce.

This bill passed out the House of Representatives with bipartisan support, and it can now be considered by the Senate. As we continue to move through the legislative process, I encourage you to share your thoughts with me, by contacting my office at 317-232-9643 or


State Rep. Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis) represents portions of Hendricks and Marion counties.

Behning serves as the chair of the House Committee on Education.

A high-resolution photo of Behning can be downloaded by clicking here