Chalk Talk

AP classes may not help much in college, new study says

WASHINGTON - College-level courses offered in high school, such as Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB), do not appear to improve academic performance in college, unless students take the tests at the end of each course, according to a major study by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley.

However, the report emphasized, performing well on the difficult exams is a better predictor of success in college than nearly anything else in a student's high school record.

The report is expected to create controversy among college recruiters, high school teachers, and students preparing for college, because the most selective colleges virtually require that students take AP or IB. Many school districts give extra grade points for taking college-level courses, a practice the Berkeley researchers say may have gone too far.

Personal training finally earns academic respect

Personal trainers are as ubiquitous as treadmills on the gym landscape, but not all are created equal. With vastly different backgrounds and levels of experience, trainers can be skilled professionals or highly paid baby-sitters. But one university hopes to send its graduates into the field with real skills and knowledge.

Next fall, Indiana's Purdue University will launch a four-year degree with a concentration in personal training, the first program of its kind.

The curriculum, part of Purdue's health-and-fitness major, offers a practical component that emphasizes performing and teaching exercises correctly, business courses, and revolving internships in such places as commercial-fitness facilities.

Immigrant vacation plans worry school officials

WASHINGTON - Classrooms at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Va., had a few more empty seats than usual last week when at least 22 student left the country for vacations that will last significantly longer than the school's 10-day winter break.

School officials expect that number to rise at Wakefield and other Washington area schools, as large numbers of immigrant families return to their native countries at the holidays. The trend troubles teachers trying to keep on schedule, as well as students concerned about their performance.

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