As an organization accredited by the Commission on Secondary Schools of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, CTY is expected to maintain measurable evidence of student learning in its summer courses. In addition, CTY is often asked by potential scholarship funders to provide objective evidence of the learning that occurs in the summer courses. With this evidence, funding sources are more likely to extend their generosity when funding summer opportunities for students.
At the end of summer courses, students receive written evaluations from their teachers. These evaluations specify content areas of mastery, content areas for growth, work style, motivation, interpersonal skills in the classroom, and recommendations for future coursework.
Students in summer programs are not systematically graded or evaluated on the basis of test scores. So, to provide requested evidence of student learning in summer courses, CTY instructors are required to create and administer assessments at the beginning and at the end of their courses. These assessments are tailored to the unique aspects of academically talented students and are developed with the following mind: (a) CTY summer courses cover a great deal of material, (b)instructors place an emphasis on active learning, and (c) courses involve the application of material in independent and creative ways.
Results from pre-post assessments have repeatedly shown that academically talented students are not a homogenous group as many people believe. Students differ widely in terms of knowledge and skills when they arrive for a course, as well as their individual pace of learning while in the course. Year-after-year, CTY researchers have found that the pre-assessment scores of students range widely from 0% correct to 100% correct (although this score is infrequent). Pre-assessment results allow the instructor to modify their intended instructional goals for the class as a whole or for individual students.
Consistent pre-post achievement gains are consistently found across all summer courses. This gain, however, differs across courses, instructors, and students. Results from the pre-post assessment provide information for CTY Summer Program staff as they make decisions about curriculum and instructional hires. In conjunction with instructors’ written evaluations, pre-post assessment results can be considered when recommendations are made for a student’s future course placement.