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In March of 2015, Luba Vangelova wrote an article entitled Standards: Why Realizing the Full Promise of Education Requires a Fresh Approach for KQED News in the Bay Area of San Francisco. It is an affiliate of both PBS and NPR.

You can read the full article here. http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2015/03/09/standards-why-realizing-the-full-promise-of-education-requires-a-fresh-approach/

She describes her article as a two-part conversation with famous University of Oregon Education Professor Yong Zhao. I admire Dr. Zhao and have read a number of his pieces but what makes her article so interesting is that it makes his “unknowing” support of our WISE Program www.wiseservices.org crystal clear.


For 40 years, WISE high school seniors of all ability levels have created individualized real-world experiences (WISE projects), exploring their passions outside the traditional classroom.  Over 40,000 WISE graduates at over 100 high schools have learned to collaborate and to work independently, developing organizational, research, writing, and presentation skills as they ignite a lifetime of personal growth.  WISE also offers local community agencies and businesses the opportunity to tap the diverse talents and energy of their high school seniors.   WISE Services (WISE Individualized Senior Experience, Inc.) is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization established in 1991 to assist schools in developing WISE programs tailored to their own local needs.

High school students increasingly need real-world skills to succeed in college and careers in order to take on a dynamic, ever-changing world. The WISE Program is the start.

According to Professor Zhao:YongZhao_243_MedRes

We need to start with the individual child, instead of what others think [that child] should become.”

 “Individual differences are not flaws to be fixed; the emphasis instead is on helping all students to identify and develop their areas of interest, and to build on their strengths.”

“The most fruitful form of education—and the one with the best chance of empowering children to overcome poverty and other disadvantages—offers each child the opportunity to pursue his or her own goals, in a stimulating and supportive environment.”

“Schools that provide a learning environment that supports individual needs benefit greatly from harnessing their students’ intrinsic motivation, because they don’t have to work hard to try to overcome resistance to learning.”

“Is the teacher the only instructor, or can students help? How about using resources beyond the school, like the community or parents?”

 “If people are driven by their own goals, that are meaningful to them, and feel a sense of accomplishment and self efficacy, then they really want to learn.”

 “Teachers should be human mentors. Children can take ownership of their learning, but inevitably they will encounter setbacks. Do teachers help develop their social, emotional and physical well being, and challenge them and push them forward?”

Professor Zhao describes what WISE does for students to a T and emphasizes what The WISE Program has been doing since 1973 for over 40,000 students.