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New for 2017!

Cutting-Edge Offerings for Leapfrog & Spark Students:


Application Process and Requirements

Applications are opened using MyCTD, the online course application system. Applicants are encouraged to apply early; many courses begin to fill as early as mid-March. Complete applications are reviewed as they are received starting January 4. Courses are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. For Leapfrog, full tuition must be paid at the time of application.

You will need a credit card to open an application. It's best to prepare all necessary supporting documents (e.g. test score report, report card) for the application in advance. Applicants will be emailed a confirmation that they have opened an application. The parent email address provided in the online application will be used for CTD communication.

Once the Leapfrog course application is completed, meaning all supporting documents have been received and all fees have been paid, it is reviewed by admissions staff. When an admission decision is made, CTD will notify the applicant by email. The process takes approximately four weeks from the time a completed application is received. Incomplete or unpaid Leapfrog applications are not reviewed. Incomplete applications do not "hold a spot" in the desired course.

In MyCTD, choose one of the following types of applications.

New Scores Applicants

  • Upload qualifying scores on a nationally normed standardized test taken within the last two years. See Eligibility Requirements for details.
  • Students with qualifying scores no more than two years old from CTD testing programs, either from NUMATS or from PreK through Grade 3 Testing, do not need to upload score reports in the online application. Admissions staff can access CTD score information.

Returning Student/Recent Participant Applicants

  • No additional scores, report cards, or recommendations are required if the student has successfully completed a CTD course within the last two years and the student is applying for a course in an eligible subject area. Participation in CTD programs that do not have eligibility requirements, such as Tadpole Academy, GLL Family Courses, and Challenge Lab, do not qualify students as returning or recent participants in Leapfrog.

Admission Portfolio Applicants

  • This option is available only to students in grades 2 or 3 who do not have qualifying test scores.
  • Upload a current report card or progress report and have the student's classroom teacher complete the online recommendation form.

Eligibility Requirements

Leapfrog courses are specifically designed for students age 4 (PreK) through grade 3 who demonstrate exceptional academic ability and a strong interest in learning. Students should apply for courses that are in their subject area of greatest strength and interest. The focus of the program is on advancing higher-order and creative-thinking skills in students' talent areas. Courses are fast-paced and the curriculum is designed for students who function at least one or two grade levels above their chronological grade placement. Families should select a course grade band based on age and their child's grade level as of January 1, 2017.

New Admission Opportunity for Young Children

CTD is piloting a new admission option that does not require our youngest students to have test scores for admission. This option is intended to provide new enrollment opportunities for families with young children who don’t have ready access to individual testing services. Children who are 4 or 5 may enroll in Leapfrog/WEP PreK/K courses and are not required to submit test scores. These courses are intended for young children with limited formal school experience. PreK/K courses expose students to creative learning experiences and challenging content, providing an early opportunity to participate in the engaging and innovative enrichment courses available at CTD.

Children who are age 6 or 5-year-old kindergarten children with significant school experience should apply for K/1 courses, and should have testing done to determine the best course placement.

Please note that successful completion of a PreK/K course or courses does not qualify a student to enroll in future CTD courses as a returning student. Students who are enrolled in a CTD course or courses using this new option at the PreK/K level will be required to apply as a new student with test scores for courses at a higher grade level, K/1 and above. For example, a four or five-year-old student who enrolls in a summer Leapfrog course(s) or a Saturday or Sunday course(s) at the PreK/K level using this option will be required to submit test scores to apply for a K/1 course.

Admission criteria for grades K/1 and above vary by subject area, grade completed, and previous participation, as detailed below.

  • For English & Language Arts courses: Students must have a verbal or reading score in the 90th percentile or above on an in-grade, nationally normed standardized achievement test taken within the last two years.
  • For math courses: Students must have a quantitative or mathematics score in the 90th percentile or above on an in-grade, nationally normed standardized achievement test taken within the last two years.
  • For science or technology courses: Students may qualify with a quantitative/math or verbal/reading score in the 90th percentile or above on an in-grade, nationally normed standardized achievement test taken within the last two years.
  • Note: If your child’s test score report does not include a national percentile rank (NPR), please ask your school administrator whether or not the information is available.
  • For returning CTD students: Those who have successfully completed a CTD Weekend Enrichment Program or Leapfrog course in the last two years in a subject area with the same eligibility requirements may apply as recent participants.
  • For students in grade 2 or 3: Students who do not have qualifying test scores may submit an Admission Portfolio, which consists of a current report card or progress report and a teacher recommendation, each demonstrating achievement in the subject area of the course the student is applying for.
  • For NUMATS participants: Students who participate in Northwestern University's Midwest Academic Talent Search (NUMATS) in grade 3 may use EXPLORE or PSAT 8/9 test scores to qualify for Leapfrog courses. Since both tests are above-grade-level, students do not need to score in the 90th percentile on the EXPLORE or PSAT 8/9 subtests to qualify, though CTD staff reserves the right to request additional information to make an admission decision.

Because many students age 4 through grade 3 do not have the opportunity for achievement testing within their schools, CTD has a testing program. The CTD evaluation consists of achievement tests in letter recognition, reading, and early mathematics. Request testing appointments in advance of opening a course application, as it may be several weeks between when an appointment is requested and when it is scheduled due to testers' availability and the volume of requests. Every effort will be made to accommodate late tests, but enrollment in popular courses may not be possible.

Comparable evaluations by a school or private psychologist may be used to demonstrate eligibility only if achievement scores in the areas of mathematics and language arts are included in the test report in the form of nationally normed percentiles.

Acceptable Tests for Determining Eligibility

Examples of tests that may be used in applications are below. The list is not exhaustive. Please note: because achievement tests are preferred, cognitive ability tests, such as the Wechsler tests, may require additional documentation.

  • Center for Talent Development Academic Evaluation 
  • Stanford Achievement Test 
  • Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS)
  • Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) 
  • Terra Nova Test 
  • ERB Tests: Comprehensive Testing Program, Independent School Entrance Exam
  • Northwest Evaluation Association Tests (NWEA): Measures of Academic Progress (MAP), MAP for Primary Grades 
  • Otis-Lennon School Ability Test (OLSAT)
  • Kaufman Test of Education Achievement (KTEA) 
  • Wechsler Tests: WPPSI, WISC, WIAT 
  • Woodcock-Johnson Test 
  • Peabody Individual Achievement Test (PIAT) 
  • California Achievement Test 
  • School and College Ability Test (SCAT) 
  • Any other achievement test with a National Percentile Rank (NPR %)

Please note: Because the PARCC test is still in the early stages of administration and is not a nationally normed assessment, CTD does not accept PARCC scores from new applicants. New applicants may provide scores from another assessment taken up to two years ago. For those who ONLY have PARCC scores, we advise the following:

  • register for an above-grade-level assessment through NUMATS (grade 3)
  • register for young student assessment through CTD (age 4 through grade 3)
  • apply with the Admission Portfolio (grades 2 or 3)

Deadlines and Course Availability

The Leapfrog enrollment period begins on January 4, 2017. The enrollment period will close on June 10, 2017, which is also the deadline for full fee refunds (minus a $60 withdrawal processing fee).

Leapfrog applications are reviewed in the order received when complete and paid. A course listed as available online at the time an application is submitted may be filled before that application is processed due to the queue of applications awaiting review by admissions staff.

Financial Aid Opportunities

Note: The 2017 CTD Summer Program Financial Aid deadline has passed.

CTD offers financial aid based on demonstrated financial need using a separate financial aid application. The application period for financial aid begins January 4, 2017 and closes April 14, 2017. Funds are limited, and awards are made as complete applications are reviewed; families are encouraged to apply early.

To be considered for financial aid:

  • First complete the CTD online course application, because financial aid applications are only reviewed for accepted students. This means that you must provide all necessary supporting materials, such as test scores or a grade report and teacher recommendation, to complete the online application.
  • A $60 deposit is required to complete the online course application. The deposit will be refunded if the student is not admitted or if financial aid is not sufficient for the student to participate in the program.

When a student has been accepted and a financial aid award is offered, any remaining balance for tuition costs will be indicated in MyCTD.

Gary Greenberg Technology Scholarship

Students with financial need applying for grade 1–3 Leapfrog technology courses may also apply for a Gary Greenberg Technology Scholarship using a separate online application. The application includes an "essay" to be completed with the help of parents, but with the ideas of the student. Essays should tell why students are excited about the course and one thing they want to learn from the course. Essays may be in written form (e.g. drawing with dictation, child's writing) or other media (e.g. 30-second audio or video file). For families not applying for financial aid, a brief (1–2 paragraphs) statement of need must also be provided by the parent or guardian.

Eligible Leapfrog technology courses are:

  • Half-day courses – Coding Paths & Patterns, Coding Levels & Layers, Learn to Code: Loops!, Coding Scavenger Hunt
  • All-day courses – Girl Power Animation, Scratch & More; Tech Power Animation, Scratch & More

Site Locations

Leapfrog courses are offered at the off-campus sites listed below. Use the Explore Courses tab at the top of this page to find specific course offerings at each location.

GEMS World Academy
350 East South Water Street
Chicago, Illinois
Before and after care options available at the Chicago site.

Roycemore School
1200 Davis Street
Evanston, Illinois

Lake Forest
Lake Forest Country Day School
145 South Green Bay Road
Lake Forest, Illinois

Saints Peter and Paul School
201 East Franklin Avenue
Naperville, Illinois

Quest Academy
500 North Benton Street
Palatine, Illinois


Leapfrog courses engage students age 4 (PreK) through grade 3 in challenging academic adventures. Hands-on activities help children with demonstrated strength in math or verbal areas acquire and practice new concepts in unique and interesting ways. With the exception of Challenge Lab makerspaces in Evanston and Palatine, each half-day Leapfrog course is designed to accommodate two grade levels: PreK/K, K/1, 1/2, or 2/3. This structure provides more course options and allows students with similar skills and abilities to be grouped together. Enrollment in PreK through K/1 courses is approximately 16 students; grades 1/2 and 2/3 courses accommodate approximately 18 students. Families receive a final, narrative evaluation of student work in Leapfrog courses. Evaluations provide feedback about engagement in the course and are emailed to families after the program concludes, usually by late September. Challenge Lab participants may be in grades 1–4 and do not receive post-session, written evaluations.

Drop Off & Pick Up

With the exception of the Chicago site, families drop off and pick up students at their classrooms.

  • For half-day morning courses meeting 9 a.m. to 12 noon, drop off can begin at 8:50 a.m., and pick up is at 12 noon.
  • For half-day afternoon courses meeting 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., drop off can begin at 12:50 p.m., and pick up is at 4 p.m.
  • For all-day courses meeting 9:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., drop off can begin at 9:05 a.m., and pick up is from 3:45 p.m. to 4 p.m.

At the Chicago site only, families have the option of dropping off and picking up students in a CTD staff-supervised car line. Families of admitted students will receive more information near the beginning of the program.

Snack and Lunch/Recess Time

Leapfrog students are encouraged to bring to class a water bottle and a peanut/tree nut-free snack that does not require refrigeration or heating. Half-day courses routinely take a snack break about halfway through each three-hour class. In all-day courses, students usually take two breaks each day.

Students enrolled in both a morning course and an afternoon course or in an all-day course will be supervised by staff from 12 noon to 1 p.m. for lunch and recess time. Families must provide a bag lunch that does not require refrigeration or heating.

A no peanut/tree nut policy is in effect at all Leapfrog program sites. Our staff monitors students' snack and lunch items and will remove items containing peanuts or tree nuts.

Safety, Supervision & Accommodation

Student safety is the highest priority of the Leapfrog program. Students are under the direct supervision of staff members at all times. Our staff works to establish expectations for student behavior that are consistent with an inviting learning environment and reflect CTD's commitment to fostering character development, integrity, and respect for diversity. Academically qualified students with disabilities are provided access to accommodations consistent with their needs and with the essential requirements of the program.

The Summer Program Family Handbooks, provided when students are accepted to a course, include detailed information about expectations for student behavior, including the CTD Honor Code and our commitment to student health, supervision, and safety.

Information for Accepted Students

Families are notified of admission decisions by email. For accepted students, this email includes links to the Leapfrog/Spark Family Handbook and other relevant information.

International Students

Leapfrog courses are taught in English. Students must be confident and comfortable speaking English in order to participate in Leapfrog courses.

Any admitted student who is not a U.S. citizen, U.S. permanent resident, or in another visa category that allows for study, and is applying for more than one half-day course (over 18 hours of study), requires sponsorship for a student visa. Failure to comply may negatively impact a student's ability to secure another non-immigrant visa in the future. Please see the International Students Page for more information.

Copyright 2014 Northwestern University Center for Talent Development