The Center for Talented Youth (CTY) is a gifted education program for school-age children, founded in 1979 by Dr. Julian Stanley at Johns Hopkins University. It was initially a research study of the rate at which gifted children can learn new material and became the first program of its kind to identify academically talented youths and provide learning opportunities. CTY offers numerous programs around the world and online but is best known for its fast-paced Summer Programs, which are held on many university campuses throughout the United States and the world and serve over 9,000 students each year. CTY is an accredited school for grades 5 to 12 by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
CTY has held several previous names. Dr. Stanley's research groups, the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY)
and the Program for Verbally Gifted Youth (PVGY)
, were combined in the early 1980s to form the Office of Talent Identification and Development (OTID)
. OTID was renamed Center for Talented Youth, which was expanded to Center for the Advancement of Academically Talented Youth (CAATY)
for a brief period. Later, CTY became the Institute for the Academic Advancement of Youth (IAAY)
. However, most students, parents, schools, and staff members preferred to call it CTY, and the name was changed back in 1999.
Generally from October to February each year, CTY's Talent Search recruits highly-able elementary and middle school students (who have scored at or above the 95th percentile
on in-grade standardized tests
) to qualify for CTY's academic programs. Applicants then take a standardized test that is above their grade level, beyond the ability of most children their age.
- Students in the 2nd to 4th grades take the School and College Ability Test (SCAT) at the Elementary level, administered by either CTY or Prometric.
- Students in the 5th and 6th grades take the SCAT at the Intermediate and Secondary levels, respectively. Previously the PLUS test was used.
- Students in the 7th to 11th grades take the SAT or ACT, administered by The College Board.
To qualify for CTY Summer Programs, a 7th grade student must score at roughly the 50th percentile achieved by graduating high school seniors. Younger students must pass somewhat lower thresholds based on grade level; applicants above 7th grade face correspondingly higher cutoffs. Students in 5th grade and above may optionally take CTY's Spatial Test Battery; high scorers on the STB face slightly lower SCAT or SAT requirements. CTY has considered other entrance criteria several times over the years, but found that SAT (et al.) remained the best predictor of student success in CTY courses.
CTY has another summer program, the Center for Academic Advancement (CAA), for gifted students in grades 7 to 11 who are in the top 2% of their age group. CAA is similar to CTY in most respects, aside from lower SAT score requirements and slightly less rigorous curricula. CTY Distance Education courses have test score requirements similar (but not necessarily identical) to those of the summer programs.
CTY course eligibility is based on the math and/or verbal subscores, depending on the course's subject matter (e.g. science courses mainly require math, writing courses require verbal). Over 80000 students are tested each year, more than half of whom qualify for some portion of CTY's course offerings.
CTY Talent Search officially operates in Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York , Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Students from other states are officially served by sister programs such as Duke University's Talent Identification Program or Northwestern's Center for Talent Development; however, they do not offer as many programs or sites as CTY, so cross-registrations are allowed. Students from every state, and dozens of countries, participate in CTY programs each year.
The Summer Programs are CTY's hallmark and its most visible public face. Many people use the term "CTY" as a synonym for the 7th to 11th grade CTY summer program.
CTY sites typically host a few hundred students each, divided into a few dozen course sections, for one or two three-week sessions. Separate sites and courses are offered for each level of students (grades 2-4, grades 5-6, older students). Sites for the youngest group are commuter programs that students attend only in the daytime. All of the other sites are residential programs where most students live in college dormitories during the session, but a few in the local area may opt to commute.
Classes in CTY are small--usually 12 students, one instructor, and one teacher's assistant (TA) per class, making the ratio of students to teachers 6:1.
CTY summer programs for the 7th grade and above are held at the following sites:
CTY summer programs for young students are available for students grades 2-4 in the daytime, and for those in 5th and 6th grades as residential or daytime programs. They are held at the following sites:
- Moravian College - Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
- Washington College - Chestertown, Maryland
- Stanford University - Palo Alto, California
- Mount Holyoke College - South Hadley, Massachusetts
- California Lutheran University - Thousand Oaks, California
- St. Stephen's & St. Agnes School - Alexandria, Virginia
- The Windward School - Los Angeles, California
- Garrison Forest School - Owings Mills, Maryland
- Maranatha High School - Pasadena, California
- Sandy Spring Friends School - Sandy Spring, Maryland
- St. Paul's School - Brooklandville, Maryland
Other summer programs
CTY has recently begun to hold residential programs for students in 10th to 12th grade. Six advanced courses are offered at Princeton University
. This site has the same entry requirements as CTY for 7th to 11th graders; some courses also have prerequisites. In addition, the Civic Leadership Institute
(CLI) (grades 10-12) hosts 80 students a year. An alliance between Northwestern's Civic Education Project and CTY with the same academic requirements as the Center for Academic Advancement
, the CLI service-learning program was hosted last year at the Peabody Conservatory
in Baltimore, Maryland.
The Center for Academic Advancement (CAA)
is a gifted education
program, part of the Johns Hopkins University
's Center for Talented Youth
(CTY) summer programs. Students are accepted based on SAT
standardized test scores with a threshold slightly lower than the more-competitive CTY
programs. The only differences between this program and CTY is the course offerings.
CAA programs for the 7th grades and above are held at the following sites:
CTY partners with numerous educational institutions around the world. For the most part, their programs and summer sites are hosted independently of CTY.
In general, CTY students are not given traditional letter grades. Instead, they are given page-long written evaluations composed by the instructor with input from the teaching assistant. The evaluations are signed by the instructor and sometimes by the teaching assistant and must be approved individually by the Site Director. The CTY Instructor's Handbook
suggests writing three types of evaluations which correspond roughly to grades of "high pass," "pass," and "low pass."
These specific terms are not used, since they suggest traditional grading, but instructors generally follow the suggestions of the Handbook and write three boilerplate evaluations. Students are ranked into three groups and receive a corresponding evaluation to which personalized remarks specific to the student are added, i.e. "Your story, Motel Saturday Night showed both biting satire and keen understanding of U.S. oil policy." The difference between the three types of evaluations may be subtle.
The specific exception to this rule is in the case of courses designed specifically to enable students to skip classes in their high schools, such as Individually Paced Mathematics Sequence or the three Fast Paced High School science courses. Students in these courses do receive letter grades so that their schools can gauge their performances; however, they also receive individualized comments from their instructors.
CTY also offers distance education
courses through CTYOnline
, with similar eligibility standards to the Summer Programs. CTY's distance courses began in 1983 with the "Writing Tutorials" through postal mail; this course migrated to email in the 1990s, and now uses Moodle
's course offerings have expanded from math and writing into many subject areas, including economics, foreign language, programming, and the physical sciences. CTYOnline
now serves over 8000 students per year, and is expected to surpass the Summer Program's head count in the near future. Additional distance students can be enrolled by adding an instructor and a computer or two, whereas expanding a summer site requires a great deal of staffing and logistics.
Students usually receive assignments through the Internet and turn in their work the same way. The most common examples are by email and through a website, although many also use CD-ROMs and/or downloaded files. Some courses, such as writing, require students to complete an assignment by a deadline before receiving a new assignment. Other courses, such as accelerated math, are individually paced; each student may complete as much material as they can within the given enrollment period.
Other CTY programs
- Family Academic Programs, also known as Conferences, are collections of seminars and hands-on activities in various locations around the world.
- The Study of Exceptional Talent is a longitudinal study of Talent Search participants who scored 700 or above on the math or verbal section of the SAT before age 13, such as Terence Tao.
- Imagine is an educational magazine aimed at middle and high school students.
- Center for Academic Advancement is a program nearly identical to CTY's summer programs, but with a lower minimum SAT score requirement.
- Cogito is a website where students recognized by the CTY can join a community to discuss a wide variety of topics with other students and leading academic figures.
- CTY was featured in a July 2004 article in The New Yorker magazine entitled "Nerd Camp
- Nickelodeon is producing an entire movie about CTY, also entitled Nerd Camp, The movie is being written by Adam Stzykiel
- CTY was also shown in an hour long CNN special on gifted children in 2006.
CTY alumni and students
CTY is home to many students of great academic ability. Achievements and recognitions for CTY students include:
Many CTY alumni go on to attend Ivy League and top tier universities: MIT, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Chicago, the California Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, and Stanford University.