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CTY News In Brief

Kids readingWhen Reading Rainbow wanted to know the best ways to encourage bright young readers, they came to CTY.

A guest post on the site offers advice from CTY curriculum developer Donna Neutze and program manager Kathy Thurlow. Their tips included making the most of lists of children’s book award winners, encouraging young readers to read outside their genre or comfort zone, dipping into genres like nonfiction and graphic novels, and asking children for their advice about what to read.

In her CTY Online Programs courses, Thurlow also encourages students to think and write about books. “You can ask them to pretend they are a talk show host interviewing a character,” she says. “Or ask them to make a pitch to a movie studio to make a book into a movie.”

Finally, it’s okay for advanced readers to mix in easier books with the more challenging material. “It’s okay to read Nancy Drew and Don Quixote at the same time,” says Thurlow. “There’s nothing wrong with that.”


The College Board launched an updated version of the SAT in March featuring a revamped essay section, less obscure vocabulary words, texts more aligned to what students are learning in school, and a return to the maximum score of 1600. (Read more about what’s changing.)

Along with the new test comes the need to establish new qualifying SAT scores for CTY programs, so CTY is collaborating with the College Board and other talent-search organizations to establish a concordance study that will help determine the new scores.

CTY invited Talent Search participants who took the final administration of the “old” SAT on January 23 and February 20 to take the test again for free in March, in its revised format. Duke’s Talent Identification Program and Northwestern University’s Center for Talent Development have extended the same invitation to their students taking the final “old” SAT.

Researchers at the College Board will then develop a concordance table that converts study participants’ scores on the new test to scores on the old test. Stu Gluck, CTY’s Director of Institutional Research, said a team at CTY will use that table to develop new program-eligibility cutoff scores.

The team will likely receive concordance tables from the College Board in June, and establish new qualifying scores based on the study results in the summer. Gluck added that CTY would monitor the new scores over the next two years to ensure study results are accurate and the talent-identification process is fair and consistent.

This fall, CTY notified families of students in seventh grade and above that they would have to take the SAT before March if they wanted to use SAT scores to qualify for summer programs this year. Students who still need to qualify for 2016 summer programs should register for the SCAT, STB, or ACT to ensure they receive their scores in time. 


Should kindness matter when it comes to college admissions? CTY Executive Director Elaine Tuttle Hansen asked this question in a recent essay published by Inside Higher Ed.

Hansen, a former college president and provost, wrote the essay in response to new recommendations for reshaping the college admissions process, based on a meeting recently convened at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. “These recommendations, if implemented, would have a significant impact on the academic and personal development of current and future CTY students as they move forward on their educational journeys, seeking to fulfill their extraordinary academic potential at competitive colleges and universities,” Hansen explains.

Her critique raises broad questions about the role college admissions can and should play in addressing important issues in education today. It also references CTY’s practices and priorities, including our commitment to access and inclusion and our advocacy for the needs of advanced learners. Read the full article.


More than 50 educators from around the country gathered in San Francisco last month for CTY’s Sarah D. Barder Conference, which recognizes educators who have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to developing the academic talents of advanced learners.

Each year, CTY summer and online students who live in Maryland, Nevada, and California can nominate a school teacher or CTY instructor who has recognized and worked to strengthen their academic abilities. Nominated teachers are invited to apply to the Sarah D. Barder fellows program, and a CTY committee selects 10 teachers for recognition.

The annual conference gives educators from around the country a chance to come together to share stories and ideas about educating bright students. The theme of the 2016 conference was “Closing the Excellence Gap.”

“Something we hear at this conference every year is that there are teachers who are doing amazing one-on-one talent development for a large number of kids, and they rarely have the opportunity to be in the company of one another,” said CTY’s Executive Director Elaine Tuttle Hansen.

It also offers the fellows something teachers don’t get often enough: the feeling that they are valued and appreciated, said Amy Shelton, Director of Research at CTY. “It’s great being able to celebrate the success stories that are out there, stories that don’t normally get the press,” Shelton said.

The 2016 Sarah D. Barder Fellows are:

Nagla Bedir, Perth Amboy High School, Perth Amboy, N.J.*
Paul Casey, Saint Anselm School, San Anselmo, Calif.
Constance Cordell, St. Margaret School, Bel Air, Md.
David Jeffries, Brandeis School of San Francisco, San Francisco, Calif.
Linda Judson, Our Lady of Victory Catholic School, Baltimore, Md.
Michael La Marr, Del Paso Manor Elementary School, Sacramento, Calif.
Erin Moore, School of the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, Baltimore, Md.
Sara Quezada, El Monte High School, El Monte, Calif.
Blair Seidler, School Of Education & Training, Paterson, N.J.*
Dan Sievers, Dumbarton Middle School, Baltimore, Md.*

* Also a CTY Summer Programs instructor.


A sensor to help emergency vehicles measure the speed and depth of flood waters. A microorganism that can decompose BPA. A hydrogel injection that can help patients heal after a heart attack.

The students behind these innovative concepts were among those selected to receive the CTY Cogito Research Award, a prize given annually to middle and high school students from around the world who demonstrate initiative, creativity, and promise in their STEM research-project proposals. The 10 winning individuals and/or teams will each receive a $599 grant and guidance from a mentor to develop their ideas. Winners will submit a final report on the results of their research later this year.

This year’s awards were funded by the Thakor Family Fund, which was established by CTY parent and donor Nitish V. Thakor and his family. Thakor is a Johns Hopkins University professor of biomedical engineering.

A CTY judging panel selected the winning proposals from more than 250 student applications based on overall quality and promise to achieve compelling research results.

The student researchers will use the funds to purchase equipment, rent lab space, or pay for other project-related needs. They will blog about their progress on the CTY website.

The 2016 CTY Cogito Research Awards winners are:

Jessika Baral, 16,
 Fremont, Calif.
Anthony Clendenen, 25, 
Graham, Wash.

Benjamin Cheng, 13,
 Foster City, Calif.
Megha Gopal, 13, New Hyde Park, N.Y.

Bridgette Han, 15, 
Palo Alto, Calif.

Isha Mohapatra, 15, 
Easton, Pa.
Anika Sanyal, 14,
 Los Altos, Calif.

Alexandra So, 15, Los Angeles, Calif.

Team winners:

Victoria Chen, 14, West Covina, Calif.;
Laura Xinyu Chen, 16, Pasadena, Calif.; and Evina Wang, 15, San Gabriel, Calif.
Katherine Duan, 13, and Alexander Kish, 13, Hanover, N.H.