Sunday, November 29, 2009

Hot topic: CTY John Hopkins

This from an SF K Files reader:
My elementary school age child, because of scores of above 95% on the grade level standardized test taken, qualifies to take the SCAT for the John Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth talent search. I was wondering if any of your readers had either taken part in CTY when growing up or have a child who is participating now.

I want to stress that I am not interested in anyone's opinion on gifted education, I only want information on this specific program.


  1. It's a money making scam. You'll get test results, and a report, but other than that it is another way to make money from people who want proof that their kids are gifted.
    Unless you plan to send your child to their summer programs in Los Angeles, or pay lots to enroll your child in their online program, I can't see the use of it.
    My kid also had scores above 95% on the STAR test, I chose not to give them my money.

  2. I took the test as a kid. I tested high, but did not attend the programs at Johns Hopkins or elsewhere. I think, at the time, and in my case, it was mainly used to for tracking purposes, i.e., what track you get placed in.

  3. Actually, maybe it's different now (I'm the last poster.) What I took, through Johns Hopkins, was the SAT. I just took it as a 7th grader.

  4. My son took the SAT in 7th and 8th grades through CTY, and what's-its-name-just-to-show-off-that-I'm-"gifted" test in 6th grade too. There was no particular downside, though there wasn't really any upside in our case. He never did any of the summer programs, which were pricey and weren't nearly as attractive as the summer camps we were doing (Mather, Cazadero, Stanford Jazz Workshop, Jazz Camp West).

    One benefit I could see is that high SAT scores as a 7th and/or 8th grader might add weight to an application for private high school, along with the kid's willingness to take the SAT voluntarily to begin with. Moot point in our case as we never applied to any private high schools.

    My daughter also took the CTY-sponsored test in 6th grade. Then she was signed up to take the SAT in 7th grade as her brother had, but she was playing trombone in a youth Latin band, and that day they had a gig playing at a Christian low-rider festival in San Jose. Well, she blew off the SAT and chose playing salsa at the Christian low-rider festival in San Jose. We all make life choices...

    And actually, to tell the truth, there may have been a downside in my son's case. I guess I'll add that I always perceived that my very bright son had the ability to fall off the academic rails -- he's not a regimented learner, put it that way. I tried to encourage him to view himself as academically gifted in the hope that that would encourage a positive attitude about his schoolwork. Well, in a way it kind of backfired, because in high school he did get into the mentality that he knew he was smart, so why do every piece of homework he determined to be rote or boring. It all worked out over time (at least so far), because he's in a good college and doing well, but it hindsight it may not have been all that great to reinforce his "gifted" self-image.

  5. I attended CTY programs as a child. They were wonderful--the one place where I felt normal and where the programs matched my abilities.

  6. I took Etymology and Latin classes at the CTY program at JHU growing up in Baltimore. I loved the classes and found what I learned was useful.

  7. I participated in the testing as a child. I did not attend any of the programs offered by John Hopkins.

    However, I did attend a summer "math camp" program from a booklet of programs distributed with the test scores etc. Attending this three week program was absolutely life changing for me and many of the friends I made at the program. The program pushed me academically for the first (and last through high school) time. It also allowed me to realize I was not alone in terms of intelligence... that "dumbing" myself down to try and fit in was not the best idea. Rather there were others out there - at the time far and few between - who could appreciate rather than resent my talents.

  8. One thing I have learned through this process is that if we went to school in the 70s or 80s, it's not wise to over-rely on our own school experiences. Back then, I recall a lot of parents being suspicious of their kids doing too well in school, not to mention the social pressure from other kids to "dumb down." I remember not answering all the questions on a history test on purpose, even though I knew the answers, just to get a worse grade and try to fit in. That's one of the reasons my parents pulled me out of public school and put me in a private college prep school where parents were achievement-oriented and there was a group of kids with whom it was socially OK to be a good student.

    People's attitudes have changed enormously since then. I don't know any parents who don't want their kids to excel in school (though most try to accept it if their kid is not an academic superstar). Our economy has changed enormously since then, with blue collar jobs that paid well but did not require a lot of formal education having moved offshore. Now that Obama is president, we can hope that whatever so-called "street" cultures that viewed education as "too white" have largely emerged from that mind-set.

    So I would think that programs like CTY are less necessary than they used to be as a place for brainy kids to find a good social fit. They should be able to find friends at any school, public or private, these days.

  9. I don't have personal experience, but about 3 weeks ago I had a conversation with one of my colleagues about my frustrations with the whole process of picking a school in SF, the lack of control we all have with the lottery or applications to private and parochial schools. His 2 children are both in their mid to late 20s and attended very prestigious universities and I was interested in his insights . His kids were educated in LA, NY and DC before they went to college , and went to both public and private schools along the way, so he was very curious about what families in SF are faced with. One thing he specifically mentioned to me was that both kids participated in the CTY program, and attended various summer sessions, I believe starting in the 6th grade (I'm not sure about the geographic locations - I think there are different options). In any case, he thought very highly of the program. Just thought I'd pass this along, but I'm afraid I don't have any specifics.

  10. For what it's worth, I was tested and attended programs in 1994... not so long ago.

  11. CTY was (and still is) a wonderful experience for my daughter. The person who commented that CTY is a money making scam is unenlightened and likely still on the streets of Haight-Ashbury, wondering what happened to all the great times of the 60s. It's comments like those that cause some of the best and brightest kids NOT to succeed.

    Fact: Studies have shown that parents who get involved in their children's education (and know who their friends are) see their children advance more both academically and socially over other kids whose parents did not get involved.

    CTY is an experience that can be life changing for your son or daughter. If your child qualifies, and they are interested in pursuing it, educate yourself, read the materials, and talk to some CTY alumni. Your kids will thank you for it later on.

  12. It can't get any better than this.

  13. I realize this in an old thread but want to underscore the comments of the last person who posted. My daughter (who will be entering 10th grade) has participated in the CTY summer programs for 3 years now (Bio-Technology, Etymology and this year Philosophy). She would hands down say these camps have been some of the best experiences of her life. She completely unplugs for 3 weeks, becomes immersed in one topic, meets new friends from all over the world, all of whom share the same passion for learning. It still shocks me that she chooses to leave her world of cell phones, computers, friends and trade it for 7 hours of learning a day. To me this is a testament to what the CTY offers its students.

  14. I'm taking the SAT in June this year. Im in 7th grade and I wuz just searching it. Pretty much everyone I our class got in so it wasn't touch of an acheivement although our teachers think we r "gifted" and continue to give us 9th grade work. I hate my life. My parents r pretty much forcing me to take them an so far only three ppl took it and they all failed with the highest of them being a score of 1400 I'll just pray I do better. It's a good expeirience though I think when I actually take it like for a college it will be easier. Also it's really socially akwark for us who r taking it bcuz all the big kids like totally freak out when we tell them. I go to a high school/ middle school so yeah. If I were a parent I wud not do this to my children. Odis I mention it sux to b me? Btw I just took the njask and I'm pretty sure I failed the English part bcuz I basically just rote about zombies and how much I hate the njask and sat and so on and so forth. I do luv to rite tho but bot stupid persuasive essays like that r on the test. I cnt believe this girl who took the act already and like overly passes and is now EXCITED and u mean excited to take the sat and go to the summer learning thingy. I am not wasting my vacation time in the sunny beaches of Egypt for stupid school work. That's just my opinion. I like being smart and all and i freak ou if I get a 90 on a test but still I hav a life.
    Peace out
    Ps don't put ur children threw thus torture!! Unless they want to....
    The sats shud go kiss my ugh I cnt curse butt!!!!!!! I sound like such a total dork! I dnt wear glasses just to let u know just to let u know!
    Peace out...again

  15. CTY may be expensive, but it's worth every penny. I have gone to the summer programs every year since I was 13, and I learn more in those three weeks than I do in 180 days of school. The people I meet there are kind and accepting and intelligent, and it is, without a doubt, the best part of my year. There are sites all over the country, as well, and students come from all over the world. Personally, I like the site in Lancaster, PA the best, but I have yet to find a CTY program that is not enjoyable.