开展素质教育是我国教育改革的重要举措。对外宣传中，“素质教育”无疑也是个非常重要的短语，国内一些媒体通常将其翻译为 quality education，例如：
The Ministry of Education has worked out new policies to further promote quality education that highlights the cultivation of independent thinking, creative spirit and practical ability, said a senior official. (chinadaily.com.cn 11/13/2000)
To overcome disadvantages in current educational system, we must carry on the quality education centering on moral education and emphasizing creativity and practice all over the country.（译文）
对于将“素质教育”翻译成 quality education 的情况早已有人提出异议，并给出了一些不同的译法。如：education for all-round development，quality-oriented education和competence-oriented education等。但上述各种译法均有不足，education for all-round development 改变了切入点，指的是让学生得到全面发展的教育；quality-oriented education 与 quality education 并无本质上的区别；而 competence-oriented education中的 competence 一词仅仅表示“能力”，这在一般的字典里都能查到，“素质教育”的内涵要远远超出 competence 所能覆盖的意义。
那么“素质教育”应如何翻译呢？这就需要通过大量查证来进行反复研究。我们学习研究的结果表明，quality education 的意思是实际上是“高质量的教育”，香港的一些网站将quality education 翻译为“优质教育”。英语中有大量“形容词+quality+名词”的用法，例如 high quality service，high quality education，good quality equipment，good quality office space，top quality cotton 等等 ；同时用“quality+名词”表示“高质量的某种东西”的情况也很多，最常见的例子是 quality products，而 quality products 实际上就等于 products of high quality。类似的情况还有 quality printed output，quality display 等。再看下面的例句，注意句子中的 quality assurance systems 表示“高质量的（人寿）保险体系”。
The aim of the guidelines is to establish quality assurance systems for the industry and to create a sound basis for further improvement in the areas of health, safety and the environment.
再看下面的几个例句, 其中的 quality education 均表示“高质量的教育”：
1. St Mary's is a good school providing quality education.
2. All young people have the right to quality education.
3. The demise of quality education, once the jewel in Britain's crown, has been a feature of the three Conservative administrations since 1979.
4. Making parents aware of the virtues of the school, the buildings, the playing fields, the swimming pool etc. isn't necessarily related to providing quality education.
值得注意的是，quality 一词如果用作复数名词, 或者放在 personal quality 这个词组中，也可指人的具体的素质表现，例如：
1．A young senior manager still committed and working to high standards would be "successful" as would an older manager with the same qualities progressing more slowly to senior levels.
2. The officials, the MPs and the industrialists get together over sandwiches to mark each candidate for their intellectual capacity, the ability to speak, write and organize, and personal qualities like their influence on others, their sense of responsibility or determination.
3. Personal qualities and work characteristics, such as self-confidence, co-operation, enthusiasm, leadership, attitudes, initiative and so on.
4. Hodgson et al (1984) also found that some schools required qualifications whereas others looked for personal qualities such as flexibility and good interpersonal skills. （在这里，学历qualifications 和素质personal qualities正好形成了对照）
5. The third element covers personal and social skills, communication and relationships, the ability to work in groups and personal qualities such as initiative, responsibility, self-reliance and leadership.
既然 quality education 不等同于“素质教育”，那么“素质教育”应该怎样译成英语呢？ 有一篇专门论述“素质教育”的文章，其“素质教育”的英译是 EQO (Essential-qualities-oriented) Education：
"Trans-century EQO (essential-qualities-oriented, called su yhi jiao zu in Chinese) Education Project".
United Nations in China 网站报道中的“素质教育”也是essential-qualities-oriented schooling：
The (Chinese) government's recent promotion of a shift from examination-oriented to essential-qualities-oriented schooling (suzhi education), is being followed up with guidelines on curriculum restructuring and textbook compilation (after the National Conference on Education, 1999).
To overcome the drawbacks of the prevailing education system we must promote throughout the country the essential-qualities-oriented education that stresses the cultivation of moral integrity and emphasizes the development of creativity of the mind and hands-on abilities.
Caliber 一词也可以用来指人的素质。根据 Chambers 21st Century Dictionary 的定义，caliber一词的意思是“quality；standard；ability”；Webster's New World Dictionary将其解释为“degree of worth or value of a person or thing; quality or ability”。由此可见，caliber大致相当于我们所说的“素质”。我们在一英语国家的网站见到过这样一则招聘广告，标题是：Looking For High Caliber Talent（招聘高素质人才）。类似的例子还有：persons of caliber and substance（有素质、有内涵的人），management staff of the highest caliber（高素质的管理人员）以及This man was a person of high caliber.（此人素质很高。）
1. He wanted someone of high caliber, with business and administrative skills.
2. The Department of the Environment admits it is almost impossible to recruit the caliber of inspectors it wants on salaries starting at about ?15,000.
3. The caliber of the new staff is impressive and the pay-bill alone will reduce by more than ?0.25m a year.
4. Quite frankly the salaries you offer these C P Os are much too low; if they weren't retired police officers, you wouldn't get the caliber of person.
5. Most listed companies do not yet have enough independent directors to fulfill the roles, and it is even doubtful whether enough individuals of the right caliber are available for these positions, particularly in view of the heavy legal responsibilities that any company director incurs.
6. The Committee on the Management of Local Government was appointed, to consider in the light of modern conditions how local government might best continue to attract and retain people of the caliber necessary to ensure its maximum effectiveness'.
其实，学生素质、教师素质、干部素质、党员素质等都可以用 caliber 这个词来翻译，
the wide and generally understood variations in academic caliber between American universities.
Time to turn one's thoughts to matters of a more intellectual caliber.
The European Business Studies degree prepares students for the European fields of business activity, and has always attracted a high caliber of student with language skills and an urge to do business in the varied market places of Europe.
High-caliber lecturers at UNITAR. Good lecturers sometimes inspire students to do well in their subjects.
British scientific research was of a high caliber.
Many agents are worried about the current caliber of editors.
Lawyers in local government seek trainee solicitors of the highest caliber.
If theatre artists of this caliber are prepared to launch a production from Plymouth, it seems a fair bet that the Theatre Royal management has got its act together.
The caliber of the expedition leaders ensures that these young travelers are able to complete trips that would be too complicated to organize for themselves.
I expected six or seven caliber applicants, though others in the business said I would be surprised by the numbers to apply.
The Executive Portfolio is a comprehensive program of executive education for high-caliber management professionals.
Efforts should always be rewarded and whilst good salary levels are essential to retain the right caliber of staff, bonus payments for exceptional effort or particular success will be rewarded by increased motivation.
"High-caliber skills for high-caliber people
Choosing to study for an MBA in the UK is a giant step towards investing in your future employability by enhancing your range of management skills.
The MBA is designed for well-qualified managers who wish to add value to their practical experience by gaining an in-depth understanding of up-to-date approaches to management and its development. ...
As a result, your educational experience will be enriched by studying with high-caliber students. ..."
The persistent concern to increase councilor caliber through reorganization makes it equally clear that the essential object of reorganization has been to make local government more functional … by restructuring it...
After the next election, there will be 80 or 90 women of remarkably high caliber on the Labor side.
It's just that there aren't enough sufficiently high caliber members in the party's lower ranks.
We must make sure that the Communists play the leading role in the organs of political power, and therefore the Party members who occupy one-third of the places must be of high caliber. This will be enough to ensure the Party's leadership...