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美国的应试教育之父----斯坦利.科普兰(Stanley Kaplan)

kira86 于2009-09-18发布 l 已有人浏览
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Stanley Kaplan: Remembering a Test Prep Pioneer高速下载 This is the VOA Special English Education Report.Here
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Stanley Kaplan: Remembering a Test Prep Pioneer


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This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

Here is a question for a college admissions test. Who was Stanley Kaplan? Did he A) start a test preparation company, B) start the test preparation industry, or C) die last month at age ninety? The correct answer is D) all of the above.

Stanley Kaplan was an educator and private tutor. In the nineteen forties, he began preparing students for the Scholastic Aptitude Test, now just called the SAT.

His parents were European immigrants who did not go to college, and he himself was rejected from medical school. He thought all Americans should have an equal chance at the best colleges, not just children of wealthy families.

These days, more students go to college. Yet wealthier families are the ones best able to pay for test preparation. Many programs cost up to one thousand dollars or more, though some are available for poor families.

Parents may hate the whole idea, but they feel nervous seeing others doing it. Then, after college, there are graduate admissions tests to prepare for. 

How much do American spend on this largely unsupervised industry? At least one billion dollars a year, estimates David Hawkins at the National Association for College Admission Counseling. The research company Outsell puts the amount at two and a half billion.

The two biggest providers in the United States -- Kaplan and Princeton Review -- both operate in more than twenty countries.

Thirty years ago, the Federal Trade Commission found that Stanley Kaplan's program could raise SAT scores -- but only by about twenty-five points. The association for college admission counseling recently found a thirty-point increase with Kaplan and other programs.

Still, the group says this is not enough to make a difference for most students. It might help some get into a top college, but only if they have above-average scores in the first place. The report suggested saving money by considering "less costly forms" of test preparation. 

Now, more about our story last week on President Obama's nationally broadcast speech to students. We noted that many conservatives raised objections before the speech. But in nineteen ninety-one, Democrats accused President George H.W. Bush of using the last such speech for political purposes.

Then as now, Democrats led Congress. They demanded an investigation. It found no misuse of public money to support the speech.

And that's the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Nancy Steinbach. I'm Steve Ember.

科普兰引起的考试革命,被称为教育民主运动。当时犹太人受到教育歧视,唯一的晋身之阶就是考试。犹太人靠考试成绩好大量挤入常青藤,甚至在哈佛耶鲁等等引起惊慌,大家要想办法如何“解决犹太人的问题”。美国大学中专门的录取办公室就是这么成立起来的。其办法是把“品格”作为衡量学生的手段,冲淡了考试成绩的重要性,成功地降低了犹太学生的录取率,捍卫了传统白人的垄断地位。这就是科普兰的时代。他受尽白人的排挤,可贵的是,科普兰不屈服,而是把精力放在犹太人唯一可以依赖的武器(即应试)上。那时SAT刚开始不久,这是一种智商测试。人们认为考前有针对性的突击和准备并无意义。因为SAT是一个衡量内在脑力的测验。知识可以增长,但脑子不可能变聪明。科普兰则于1946年开始研究针对SAT的应试办法。尽管考试的主持机构告诉学生参加科普兰的课程纯属浪费钱,但当他成功地提高了他的学生的SAT成绩后,联邦行业委员会(Federal Trade Commission)在1970年代末决定对他展开调查。本来,调查的目的是看看他到处鼓吹他的课程能够提高SAT成绩是否属于假广告。但于1979年出版的调查报告等于给他的事业进行了他做梦也想不到的广告宣传。该调查报告指出,科普兰的系统能够提高SAT的语文和数学部分的成绩各25分(总分在200-800之间)。于是,立志上大学的高中生们纷纷涌入科普兰的课程中,让他生意兴隆。1984年他将这笔生意以四千五百万美元卖给《华盛顿邮报》。如今,科普兰公司是《华盛顿邮报》集团中比《华盛顿邮报》本身身价还高的分支,并包括网上法学院等各种教育课程,年收入高达二十三亿美元。

上得起SAT补习班的还是有钱人家的子弟,并且,美国大学的录取办公室对富人的经济优势也很有意识。当年作为排挤犹太人的工具的“品格”评价,被用来照顾弱势。特别是在精英大学,富裕家庭的子弟必必须考高得多的成绩才能和穷孩子竞争。穷孩子则因为显示了“克服生活中的挑战”等等品格而获得加分。这样,平民子弟出头的机会就多了不少。
 
以后的美国政治,家门的影响会逐渐减弱,但名校的影响则可能加强。克林顿夫妇、奥巴马、刚刚上任的大法官Sonia Sotomayor ,全是一色的常青藤。特别是最高法院,几乎被哈佛、耶鲁、和哥仑比亚三大法学院所一手遮天。常青藤等一流大学,本世纪开始又试行奖学金的改革,使平民子弟几乎可以在那里获得免费的教育。与此同时,各个私立大学虽然一直招收一定比例的“遗产学生”,即以特殊标准录取一些大家门特别是给学校捐款的富豪的子弟,但最近这种政策在教育平等的浪潮中所受到的压力越来越大,肯尼迪生前也公开支持废除成全了他的这种制度。世袭教育的终结,恐怕是指日可待了。这样,大大小小的肯尼迪们就很难和那些功课好的普通学生竞争了。没有常青藤的牌子当然还可以出头,但这条路已经不如过去那么容易了。这种苗头,其实已经出现。比如,不久前希拉里就任国务卿,空出了自己在纽约州的参议员议席。纽约州和麻省并立为肯尼迪家族的两大政治基地,是爱德华之兄罗伯特肯尼迪的大本营。自然,在希拉里走后,肯尼迪总统的独女卡罗琳马上被拥出接班。可惜,时代变了,她显然没有爱德华的运气,尽管人品好得多,选民也不认可。最后接班的是常青藤出身的陆天娜(Kirsten Gillibrand)。
 
这一切,都突显了科普兰的历史意义。有人说,作为美国的应试教育之父,科普兰把教育变成了考试。这当然不无道理。但是,在美国的具体环境下,考试毕竟是消解传统权力的最好工具之一。在这个意义上,他是真正的平民社会的一块重要基石。

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