Center for Talented Youth

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Center For Talented Youth
A CTY afternoon activity at LMU in Los Angeles
School typegifted education
FounderJulian Stanley
AuthorityJohns Hopkins University
DirectorElaine Tuttle Hansen
Age6 to 17
Classes offeredMathematics, Computer Science, Humanities, and Science
Accreditation(s)grades 5-12
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Center For Talented Youth
A CTY afternoon activity at LMU in Los Angeles
School typegifted education
FounderJulian Stanley
AuthorityJohns Hopkins University
DirectorElaine Tuttle Hansen
Age6 to 17
Classes offeredMathematics, Computer Science, Humanities, and Science
Accreditation(s)grades 5-12

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 10,000 students each year.[1] CTY is an accredited school for grades 5 to 12 by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.


Other names

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.[2]

Talent search

Map of talent searches across the US (CTY in yellow)

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.[3] Applicants then take a standardized test that is above their grade level, beyond the ability of most children their age.

To qualify for CTY's primary summer program, CTY: Intensive Studies, 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, called CTY: Academic Explorations, formerly the Center for Academic Advancement (CAA), for gifted students in grades 7 to 11 who are in the top 2% of their age group. CTY: Academic Explorations is identical to CTY: Intensive Studies in most respects, aside from its slightly lower standardized test score threshold. 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.

Summer programs

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 Intensive Studies 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 teaching assistant (TA) per class, making the ratio of students to teachers 6:1.

CTY sites

CTY: Intensive Studies programs, for students in 7th grade and above, are held at the following sites:

CTY: Academic Explorations programs, for the same grade range, are held at the following sites:

CTY summer programs for young students are available for students in 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:

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; Students who already have qualified for CTY are still eligible for the Princeton Summer Program. Some courses also have prerequisites.[4] 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 CTY: Academic Explorations, the CLI service-learning program was hosted last year at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, Maryland.

CTY International

CTY partners with numerous educational institutions around the world. For the most part, their programs and summer sites are hosted independently of CTY.[5]

Students, aged 8–16 years of age, qualify for acceptance in the program based on written scores achieved on the College Bound SAT and SCAT examinations administered by Johns Hopkins University CTY. Acceleration and enrichment programs include: • Mathematics (arithmetic through advanced calculus) • Science (Young scientists, marine science, medical science, physics) • Language arts • Economics (Microeconomics in the global economy) • International relations / global politics • Finance • Art

Since 2005, CTY Bermuda, in collaboration with the University of Waterloo, Department of Mathematics, has held a Mathematics Olympiad for young mathematicians. Overall winners have included: • 2005 Matthew Witkowski • 2006 Amee Baker • 2007 Ceilidh Blood • 2008 Ceilidh Blood • 2009 Aanika Rahman • 2010 Graydon Kilgour Flatt • 2011 Graydon Kilgour Flatt

A game being played at CTY.

Student life

During a three-week summer session of CTY (here denoting the two programs for students in the 7th grade and above), students engage in numerous site-sponsored activities. The amount of scheduled time versus free time varies by site, but all sites share the same basic outline for the weekday agenda.[11] Students eat breakfast at roughly 7 to 8 a.m., sometimes with their hall (the group of students living in the same dorm hall, which is supervised by a Residential Assistant). This is followed by class from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., divided into morning and afternoon class sessions by an hour for lunch, and interrupted by short breaks.

After the afternoon class session ends, the more social side of the weekday schedule ensues. Students attend two roughly hour-long activity sessions, which they select each day from a list of activities. This list is fairly diverse; it will typically combine standard pastimes, such as cloudwatching, card/board games, various discussion or debate groups, sports (depending on campus facilities), or improv, with a more idiosyncratic selection of activities, often obscure or impenetrably titled, such as Silent Football, "Cranberry Unicorn Breakdown," fun with duct tape, or "The Worst Activity Ever."

Activities are followed by an hour and a half of dinner and free time. Following this is two hours of study hall, ending at 9 p.m., in which students complete curricular work or readings, supervised by the Teaching Assistant for the class. Students then have some free time on their campus's quad before a lights-out that occurs typically at 10:30 p.m.

CTY puts heavy emphasis on this social aspect of CTY, encouraging social interaction over solitary activities,[12] and schedules class time and social time separately to avoid overwhelming students and to promote community and social development.[13] Although there are no classes during weekends, most sites will hold all-site events on Friday evening and Saturday throughout the day, ranging from staff performances to game shows to carnivals. In additional, every site holds at least one dance each weekend, and on the day before session ends. Sundays are generally left open, with the exception of a study hall session in the evening to replace Friday's study hall.

The attention paid to social interaction has resulted in a number of unofficial student traditions. Prominent among these is the song "American Pie" by Don McLean, which has been played at nearly every dance since CTY's inception in 1979 and is considered its de facto anthem.[14] At many sites, the session concludes with a student-led early morning toast, referred to as "Passionfruit," before class on the last day. Where and when possible, Passionfruit happens at the larger Sunrise event, attended by all students. But the Passionfuit toast and event itself is generally kept to only include older students who are attending their last year at CTY. They are referred to as "Nevermores" (or, at some sites, "forevermores").

Student evaluations

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, e.g. "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. CTYOnline'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. They also offer Advanced Placement courses such as AP Biology, AP Calculus etc...

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.[15]

Other CTY programs


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,[28] Johns Hopkins University, University of California, Berkeley, the University of Chicago, the California Institute of Technology, and Stanford University.[29]

See also


  1. ^ "About CTY". Johns Hopkins University. 2005. 
  2. ^ "Johns Hopkins Magazine". Johns Hopkins University. 2004. 
  3. ^ "Talent Search and Testing". Johns Hopkins University. 2006. Retrieved 2006-09-11. 
  4. ^ CTY Summer Program at Princeton University
  5. ^ "CTY International". 2007. 
  6. ^ CTY China
  7. ^ [1] CTY Hong Kong S.A.R.
  8. ^ CTY Spain
  9. ^ CTY Ireland
  10. ^ "CTY Summer Program for 7th - 12th Graders at Tecnologico de Monterrey, Mexico". 2009. 
  11. ^ Student Life at CTY
  12. ^ Information for Parents of CTY Students
  13. ^ CTY Official FAQ
  14. ^ I can still remember..., video produced by CTY Communications
  15. ^ "CTY Distance Education". Johns Hopkins University. 2006. Retrieved 2006-09-11. 
  16. ^ CTY Description of Cogito
  17. ^ Burkhard Bilger, Annals of Childhood, "Nerd Camp," The New Yorker, July 26, 2004, p. 64
  18. ^ McNary, Dave. "'Nerd' herd camps out with a scibe." Variety. 25 Sep. 2005. Variety. 19 Aug. 2008 <>.
  19. ^ "CTY Featured on CNN." JHU Center for Talented Youth. 2006. JHU Center for Talented Youth. 19 Aug. 2008 <>.
  20. ^ "Press Release: Center for Talented Youth Alumni Net Top Academic Honors". 2006. 
  21. ^ "CSP Students are Recognized by JHU". 2012. 
  22. ^ Presenter: Sanjay Gupta (2006-09-17). "Genius: Quest for Extreme Brain Power". CNN. 
  23. ^ Ramakrishnan, Meera (2009-11-19). "Hopkins alumni gather for Center for Talented Youth reunion". The Johns Hopkins News-Letter. 
  24. ^ McGoldrick, Debbie (2009-06-23). "Lynch a Writing Star". IrishCentral. 
  25. ^ "Cogito Interview". 
  26. ^ "Matt Zimmerman - United Kingdom". LinkedIn. Retrieved 2010-07-06. 
  27. ^ Vozzella, Laura (2009-11-04). "Just like Mom (and Sister) didn't used to make". Baltimore Sun.,0,4794887.story. 
  28. ^ MIT CTY Alumni Association
  29. ^ Stanford CTY Alumni Facebook group.

External links