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The Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth was founded in 1979 to challenge insatiable learners, curious young people who never stop asking questions and searching for answers about how the world works. For nearly two generations, CTY has helped identify, nurture, and advocate for advanced students from all backgrounds.
The original mission of Julian C. Stanley, the Johns Hopkins University psychology professor who founded CTY, was to understand and address the needs of students with extraordinary academic abilities who were being underserved by the educational system. Today, CTY's mission remains fundamentally the same — to identify and develop the talents of academically advanced pre-college students around the world.
The center’s approach to learning reflects a core belief that advanced learners are not all the same. Each student’s needs depend on their school context and family and community resources. At different times in their individual educational trajectories, some students may need opportunities to study standard content at a faster pace; others may need opportunities to study content of high interest that is not available at their school or not available at an advanced level or with as much depth as provided through CTY courses. Students with advanced abilities also need the opportunity to study and socialize with students who share their abilities and their academic interests and motivations. CTY’s programs aim to allow highly able students to immerse themselves in their academic passions, to meet others like themselves, and to grow intellectually and personally.
CTY’s core programs and services include talent identification; summer, online and family learning programs; counseling; professional development for educators; and international program development and advising. Underpinning these efforts is a foundation of research that began with Dr. Stanley and continues with CTY’s current research team, which is engaged substantially in exploring questions about identification, characterization, and effective practices for serving the most advanced learners from all backgrounds.
CTY began with a seventh-grade boy from Baltimore who had exhausted all the options for math courses he could take at school by the time he was 13. Dr. Stanley, a professor of psychology at Johns Hopkins, worked with this boy to arrange access to challenging math courses so the boy could develop his academic talents. In 1979, Dr. Stanley and Johns Hopkins founded the Center for Talented Youth to recognize and develop the brightest young minds around the world.
Since 1979, CTY has expanded on its original identification and summer learning offerings to provide a wide range of gifted and talented academic opportunities. CTY strives to serve as the world leader in the education of advanced learners, to open access to CTY’s opportunities for top students from all backgrounds, and to originate and communicate research on recognizing and developing the talents of students of great academic promise.
Today, CTY is accredited for grades K through 12 by the Middle States Association of College and Schools Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools. Its students come from many nations, and its alumni include the cofounder of Google, the CEO of Facebook, and leaders in the sciences, arts, and government. The center seeks to enable all academically qualified students to participate in its programs without the obstacle of economic hardship. To that end, CTY awards more than $5 million in need-based financial aid annually.
Since 1979, CTY has reached nearly 1.6 million students worldwide through its talent search; summer, online, and family learning programs; and counseling resources such as the Study of Exceptional Talent and the Diagnostic and Counseling Center.
CTY’s Diagnostic and Counseling Center (DCC) provides individualized assessments and educational guidance for students of all ages with the goal of understanding the strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles of students based on an in-depth evaluation of their abilities, knowledge, and interests. Assessment and counseling services include psycho-educational evaluations and academic and career guidance. With this information, the center helps individuals and their families find ways to support students’ overall educational needs. While the DCC serves students with a variety of characteristics, it has particular expertise in working with gifted students and twice exceptional students, or gifted students with learning challenges.
CTY’s Family Academic Programs bring bright students and their families together to cultivate their interests, explore the world and make new friends. Family programs are open to all students and their families; no minimum qualifying scores are required. Most are one‐day programs on an enrichment topic; some are curated museum, science or nature‐center programs, such as a program at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. Other programs are offered with universities or research centers, such as a program on “Engineering in Medicine” at Stanford University, and another on “Genetics, Bioinformatics and Biomedical Research” at the National Institutes of Health. The Johns Hopkins Institutions often collaborate with CTY on Family Academic Programs. Recent programs included “Inside APL” and a Business Entrepreneurship program with the Carey Business School. CTY’s “Pathways to College” series provides CTY families with information and advice on the college selection and admissions process.
CTY brings the center’s expertise to countries throughout the world through educational advising, program development, research, teacher training, and licensing. Projects are highly individualized and designed to meet the needs of CTY’s international partners. Past and current projects include program development in Malaysia, Greece, and Saudi Arabia; teacher training in Hong Kong and the Czech Republic; and educational testing in Ireland and Kazakhstan. From assisting governments seeking to sponsor students’ participation in CTY Summer and Online programs to launching a nationwide talent search to identify a country’s most able students, CTY is committed to the global classroom and to ensuring high quality programming for the world’s brightest pre-college students.
CTY Online Programs provide course options year‐round and offer direct instructor support alongside online courseware that has been appropriately leveled for students’ abilities, independent of their age. CTY offers more than 156 online courses from grades 2 to 12. Many programs are individually paced, allowing students flexibility that suits their schedule and allows them to move through material at a pace that best suits to their abilities. Other courses are session‐based, many NCAA-approved, and provide a more structured course timeline with specific beginning and end dates and assignment deadlines. Many Online Programs students seek credit from their enrolling school, and a significant number of schools work with CTY to expand opportunities for their academically advanced students by bringing these challenging online courses to the school setting. All students are paired with expert instructors who support learners as they move through the courses and are capable of working with younger students who may have advanced academic ability.
The Julian C. Stanley Study of Exceptional Talent (SET) was created to help extremely talented students achieve their full potential and, through research and advocacy initiatives, to enhance the educational opportunities available for all academically advanced students. Since 1980, SET has assisted students throughout the world who exhibit extraordinary mathematical or verbal reasoning ability by scoring at least 700 on either the Mathematical or Verbal (Critical Reading or Evidence-Based Reading and Writing) part of the SAT before the age of 13 (or score an additional ten points for each additional month of age).
CTY’s summer programs offer bright students the opportunity to engage in challenging academic work in the company of peers who share their exceptional abilities and love of learning. While the focus is on rigorous academics and learning, the social experience that results from bringing these students together is an integral part of the program. CTY’s 25 residential and day sites in the U.S. and Hong Kong serve thousands of students each year from all 50 states and dozens of countries around the world. Qualifying students come from all walks of life and a variety of educational backgrounds to spend three weeks immersing themselves in their academic passions, meeting peers who share their interests, and growing intellectually and personally. Classes are typically composed of 12 to 18 students, and each class has a highly skilled instructor and a teaching assistant. Outside of class, students participate in a full and fun social program, engaging in sports, games, talent shows, dances, and other traditions.
The CTY Talent Search — the nation’s oldest university-based talent search, for which more than 25,000 students annually complete applications — employs above‐level testing for students in grades 2 through 8 to help families find the appropriate level of challenge for their advanced learners. Talent Search, open to students who score in the top five percent on in-grade-level standardized tests or who exhibit other evidence of high academic potential, is also the first step to joining the CTY community and qualifying to attend its summer and online programs. Students who score at the highest levels are recognized at award ceremonies for their achievements. Talent Search is critical to CTY’s access and inclusion goals and is offered at a significantly reduced cost for low‐income families.