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哈佛研究报告:五岁看老

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幼儿园老师和同学对你一生有多大影响?
How much do your kindergarten teacher and classmates affect the rest of your life?
此前,经济学家们普遍认为影响不大。好老师和早期教育在短期内有很大影响,但这种影响一般会逐渐消退。以考试成绩为标准,到了初高中阶段,接受过优秀早期教育的孩子与类似(背景)但没有接受过此种教育的孩子相比,并没有明显优势。更令人泄气的是,进一步人们会问:幼儿园和幼儿园教师到底有多大作用?
Economists have generally thought that the answer was not much. Great teachers and early childhood programs can have a big short-term effect. But the impact tends to fade. By junior high and high school, children who had excellent early schooling do little better on tests than similar children who did not — which raises the demoralizing question of how much of a difference schools and teachers can make.
但是消退效应有一个致命的软肋。那就是,这些研究主要基于考试成绩,而不是更广泛的衡量标准,比如孩子的健康,或是最终的收入水平。如哈弗经济学家拉兹·切提所说:“我们不在乎考试成绩。我们在乎的是孩子长大成人后的成果。”
There has always been one major caveat, however, to the research on the fade-out effect. It was based mainly on test scores, not on a broader set of measures, like a child’s health or eventual earnings. As Raj Chetty, a Harvard economist, says: “We don’t really care about test scores. We care about adult outcomes.”
今年早些时候,切提与另外五位学者开始致力于填补这一空白。他们研究了一万两千名孩子的成长轨迹。这些孩子是一九八零年代田纳西一项著名教育实验的研究对象。研究中的孩子们现在大约正当进入而立之年。
Early this year, Mr. Chetty and five other researchers set out to fill this void. They examined the life paths of almost 12,000 children who had been part of a well-known education experiment in Tennessee in the 1980s. The children are now about 30, well started on their adult lives.
本周二切提在麻省剑桥的一次学术会议上公布了尚未接受同行审议的研究结果。这一结果颇让人震惊。
On Tuesday, Mr. Chetty presented the findings — not yet peer-reviewed — at an academic conference in Cambridge, Mass. They’re fairly explosive.
如同其他研究,田纳西实验发现,与其他教师相比,有些教师能够让学生们学到多得多的东西。也如其他研究结果,基于考试成绩,这种影响到初中阶段就消退了。然而切提和他的同事们进一步研究了学生们的成人生活。他们发现,幼儿园的馈赠又回归了。
Just as in other studies, the Tennessee experiment found that some teachers were able to help students learn vastly more than other teachers. And just as in other studies, the effect largely disappeared by junior high, based on test scores. Yet when Mr. Chetty and his colleagues took another look at the students in adulthood, they discovered that the legacy of kindergarten had re-emerged.
在幼儿园阶段所学更多的孩子,与类似背景的其他孩子相比,更有可能进入大学深造。这些孩子成为单亲父母的机会也更低。进入成年后,他们更可能为退休进行储蓄。而最引人注目的是,他们挣得更多。
Students who had learned much more in kindergarten were more likely to go to college than students with otherwise similar backgrounds. Students who learned more were also less likely to become single parents. As adults, they were more likely to be saving for retirement. Perhaps most striking, they were earning more.
所有其他条件等同的情况下,在幼儿园期间的测试成绩分布每上升一个百分点(译者注:某个孩子的成绩分布60%,就是说60%的其他孩子成绩比她差),到二十七岁时这个孩子的年收入大约提高100美元。通常一个好老师会让一个五岁孩子从平均线跃升到60%,这意味着二十七岁时这个孩子与幼儿园平均水平的孩子相比年收入会高出1000美元左右。随着时间,这种影响似乎还会加大。
All else equal, they were making about an extra $100 a year at age 27 for every percentile they had moved up the test-score distribution over the course of kindergarten. A student who went from average to the 60th percentile — a typical jump for a 5-year-old with a good teacher — could expect to make about $1,000 more a year at age 27 than a student who remained at the average. Over time, the effect seems to grow, too.
对于确凿的原因,经济学家们并没有强作结论。但并不难做出合理的猜测。优秀的早期教育会培养影响人一生的能力--如耐心、约束、举止、坚韧等。五岁孩子接受的测试可能检测出这些能力,而初高中阶段的多项选择考试却忽略了它们。
The economists don’t pretend to know the exact causes. But it’s not hard to come up with plausible guesses. Good early education can impart skills that last a lifetime — patience, discipline, manners, perseverance. The tests that 5-year-olds take may pick up these skills, even if later multiple-choice tests do not.
在现在这一时刻,这样的研究成果尤其有益。经济状况仍旧相当糟糕,可以理解很多人此时会怀疑教育的价值。他们看到,就算大学毕业,在经济衰退之际仍然会失业。
Now happens to be a particularly good time for a study like this. With the economy still terribly weak, many people are understandably unsure about the value of education. They see that even college graduates have lost their jobs in the recession.
几乎每周都会有报纸撰文或电视报道称,教育的价值被高估了。这些报道会引用自由主义团体(如经济策略学会 Economic Policy Institute)的言论,称在当今的全球经济中,教育难以为就业者提供保护。他们或者又会引用保守主义者(如查尔斯·穆雷和拉梅什·珀奴卢),称那些没拿到大学文凭的人,反正本来就不够聪明。
Barely a week seems to go by without a newspaper or television station running a report suggesting that education is overrated. These stories quote liberal groups, like the Economic Policy Institute, that argue that an education can’t protect workers in today’s global economy. Or they quote conservatives, like Charles Murray and Ramesh Ponnuru, who suggest that people who haven’t graduated from college aren’t smart enough to do so.
但这些反对教育的言论大多基于道听途说的个例和有限的事实。事实上,基于劳动部的数据,大学毕业生和没有大学文凭者的收入差异,去年再创新高。对于教育程度不高的人群来说,失业率上升的程度也高得多。
But the anti-education case usually relies on a combination of anecdotes and selective facts. In truth, the gap between the pay of college graduates and everyone else grew to a record last year, according to the Labor Department, and unemployment has risen far more for the less educated.
这不仅仅是因为聪明人--那些不管怎样都会做的很好的人--更倾向于去获得大学文凭。教育本身也会产生影响。Julie Berry Cullen, James Heckman, Philip Oreopoulos 等人所进行的经济学研究,都支持这一观点,切提及其同事的研究只是最新的证据。
This is not simply because smart people — people who would do well no matter what — tend to graduate from college. Education itself can make a difference. A long line of economic research, by Julie Berry Cullen, James Heckman, Philip Oreopoulos and many others, has found as much. The study by Mr. Chetty and his colleagues is the latest piece of evidence.
而这一研究所回答的关键问题是这样一个因果关系:幼儿园阶段成绩优秀与成人之后美好未来的关联,是由于孩子自身的背景,还是老师和同学对其产生了影响呢
The crucial problem the study had to solve was the old causation-correlation problem. Are children who do well on kindergarten tests destined to do better in life, based on who they are? Or are their teacher and classmates changing them?
这个被称为“小星星项目(Project Star)”的田纳西试验为回答上述问题提供了可能。这一试验将学生随机分到幼儿园不同的班中,因此,每个班级学生的社会经济背景组成基本类似。以此类推,在幼儿园结业时,其学业表现也应当相近。
The Tennessee experiment, known as Project Star, offered a chance to answer these questions because it randomly assigned students to a kindergarten class. As a result, the classes had fairly similar socioeconomic mixes of students and could be expected to perform similarly on the tests given at the end of kindergarten.
但结果并非如此。有些班级的学业表现远远超出其他班级。其差异之大,已无法用偶然情况来解释。(相类似,研究显示小学一、二、三年级入学和结业考试在班级之间也有很大差异。)
Yet they didn’t. Some classes did far better than others. The differences were too big to be explained by randomness. (Similarly, when the researchers looked at entering and exiting test scores in first, second and third grades, they found that some classes made much more progress than others.)
“小星星项目”的一个原动力是研究班级人数的影响,这个参数确有影响。13-17人的班级比22-25人的班级表现更出色。同班同学似乎也有影响。平均社会经济阶层偏高的班级,所有学生的表现都会稍好。
Class size — which was the impetus of Project Star — evidently played some role. Classes with 13 to 17 students did better than classes with 22 to 25. Peers also seem to matter. In classes with a somewhat higher average socioeconomic status, all the students tended to do a little better.
但这些因素都不足以解释学业表现的差异。这额外的因素似乎就是:教师。
But neither of these factors came close to explaining the variation in class performance. So another cause seemed to be the explanation: teachers.
有些老师的教育非常有效,有些则差一些。而这种差异会对学生产生多年的影响。
Some are highly effective. Some are not. And the differences can affect students for years to come.
在采访中,达特茅斯大学的经济学家道格拉斯·斯泰格认为这一研究极其出色,并可能产生重要影响。“此前人们怀疑教育能否转化成收入。”斯泰格称“这一研究给我们肯定的回答。此前的消退效应,在一定意义上是一种误导。”
When I asked Douglas Staiger, a Dartmouth economist who studies education, what he thought of the new paper, he called it fascinating and potentially important. “The worry has been that education didn’t translate into earnings,” Mr. Staiger said. “But this is telling us that it does and that the fade-out effect is misleading in some sense.”
切提和他的同事们(其中伊曼纽尔·塞茨最近还获得了40岁以下经济学家奖)还估计,一名出色的幼儿园教师当值年薪32万美元。这一估计是根据全班学生可额外增加未来收入的现值总和计算的。这一估计还不包括其社会价值,如健康水平的提高和犯罪率的降低。
Mr. Chetty and his colleagues — one of whom, Emmanuel Saez, recently won the prize for the top research economist under the age of 40 — estimate that a standout kindergarten teacher is worth about $320,000 a year. That’s the present value of the additional money that a full class of students can expect to earn over their careers. This estimate doesn’t take into account social gains, like better health and less crime.
当然,在短期内优秀的幼儿园教师是不会挣到32万美元年薪的。但教育主管部门应该对现状有所改变。
Obviously, great kindergarten teachers are not going to start making $320,000 anytime soon. Still, school administrators can do more than they’re doing.
他们应当增加最优秀教师的薪水--如匹兹堡市很快将实施的,并给他们更多支持。教育主管部门还应当如华盛顿州教育主管米歇尔·李上周所做的那样,解雇最差的教师。如同教师工会所要求的,还应该确保标准化考试被用来衡量学生的真实能力和教师的水平。
They can pay their best teachers more, as Pittsburgh soon will, and give them the support they deserve. Administrators can fire more of their worst teachers, as Michelle Rhee, the Washington schools chancellor, did last week. Schools can also make sure standardized tests are measuring real student skills and teacher quality, as teachers’ unions have urged.
在当今的预算压力之下,确实很难获得资金开启新的教育项目。但我们是否更应当把有限的资源投入到那些持久的价值中呢?
Given today’s budget pressures, finding the money for any new programs will be difficult. But that’s all the more reason to focus our scarce resources on investments whose benefits won’t simply fade away.
标签:哈佛
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2010-08-03 20:42 编辑:kuaileyingyu
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