New for 2016! Challenge Lab, a CTD Maker Space

New for 2016! Challenge Lab, a CTD Maker Space

New for 2016! CTD Maker Space

Update! All Challenge Lab sessions are open to grades 1-4.
In our new CTD Challenge Lab, students explore and experiment as they acquire design engineering and problem-solving skills. Projects include building with wood, working with gears and pulleys, or designing spring-powered vehicles. No test scores or portfolio are required for Challenge Lab enrollment. Sessions are offered Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings, 9 am to 12 noon, from July 23-28, Evanston and Palatine sites only. See the Summer Program catalog for more details.

Video Tutorial | CTD Summer Application

If having trouble viewing, view video on CTD Vimeo page


Skokie Site Moves to Roycemore School

The Leapfrog and Spark summer programs previously offered in Skokie will now take place at Roycemore School at 1200 Davis Street in Evanston. Roycemore is less than a mile from Northwestern University's main campus and close to public transportation.


Application Process and Requirements

Applicants are encouraged to apply early, as 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 is due upon opening an application in MyCTD.

You will need a credit card to open an application. We recommend that you prepare all necessary supporting documents (test scores, teacher recommendation, etc.) for the application in advance. Applicants will be emailed a confirmation that they have opened an application. The parent e-mail provided in the online application is the address to which CTD communications will be sent.

Once the Summer Program office receives a completed Leapfrog application (which means all supporting documents have been received and all fees have been paid), it is forwarded to a Leapfrog Program Coordinator for review. Once an enrollment decision is made, the Program Coordinator will notify the applicant via email using the primary email address provided in the application. 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.

New Scores Applicants

  • Qualifying scores on CTD Testing or another recent (within the last two years) nationally normed standardized test—see Eligibility Requirements and course descriptions for details

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 and GLL Family Courses, do not qualify students as returning or recent participants in the Leapfrog program.

Admission Portfolio Applicants (grades 2 and 3 only)

  • Most recent available report card
  • One teacher recommendation


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 the grade level on January 1, 2016. Admission criteria vary by subject area and grade completed, 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.
  • 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.
  • For science, design & engineering, and computer science courses: Students may qualify with a quantitative/math or verbal/reading score in the 90th percentile or above.
  • 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.

Students who participate in Northwestern University’s Midwest Academic Talent Search (NUMATS) in grade 3 may submit EXPLORE test scores to qualify for Leapfrog courses. Since EXPLORE is an above-grade-level test, students do not need to score in the 90th percentile on the EXPLORE 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 and reading, early mathematics, general information, and abstract representation. Call for testing appointments early, as it may be several weeks between when an appointment is requested and the scheduled testing date, due to testers' availability and the volume of requests. We will do our best to accommodate late tests, but enrollment, particularly in first-choice courses, may not be possible.

Comparable evaluations by a school psychologist may be used to demonstrate eligibility for the Leapfrog program 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.

Students in grades 2 or 3 who do not have test scores may choose to submit an Admission Portfolio, which consists of a current report card or progress report and a teacher recommendation.

Acceptable Tests for Leapfrog Eligibility

To prove eligibility for Leapfrog, applicants may submit a nationally normed, standardized achievement test taken within the last two years demonstrating a score in the 90th percentile or above (National Percentile Rank) in math and/or reading. Below are examples of tests we have accepted for admission. (Please note: since achievement tests are preferred, cognitive ability tests, such as the Weschler 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 Test
  • Kaufman Test of Education Achievement (KTEA) 
  • Weschler 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 %)

Deadlines and Course Availability

The Leapfrog enrollment period begins on January 4, 2016. The enrollment period will close on June 10, 2016, 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 the Program Coordinator.

Financial Aid Opportunities

CTD offers need-based financial aid, awarded as requests are received, starting in January. Families are encouraged to apply early because the amount of aid available is limited. The Financial Aid application deadline was April 15, 2016. If you have already begun a financial aid application, but need to update or complete information, you may still log in to do this.

  • The amount of financial aid awarded varies from partial to full tuition, and awards are based on family income and extenuating circumstances (e.g., loss of job, unforeseen medical expenses, etc.). Most families awarded aid have a total household income of less than $50,000.
  • In Leapfrog, the maximum financial aid award is two half-day courses or one all-day course per child per summer.
  • To be considered for financial aid, families must complete the Financial Aid Application, available once a family has applied through the online application. All supporting materials (tax information, statement of need, etc.) must be included in the financial aid submission in order for an application for financial aid to be considered.
  • A $60 deposit is required to complete the online application. The deposit will be refunded if the student is not admitted or if the aid award offered is not sufficient to meet the family's financial need.
  • All application materials, such as test scores, must be submitted before financial aid will be considered.
  • The amount of financial aid granted and the balance due are reflected on an invoice included in program acceptance materials. Any outstanding balance must be paid by June 10, 2016.

Technology Scholarship

Students with financial need applying to the following technology courses are eligible to apply for the Gary Greenberg Technology Scholarship:

  • Half-day courses – Story Code Gamma, Story Code Delta, Hexbug® Habitats, or WeDo Go!
  • All-day courses – Tech Power Scratch, Girl Power Scratch, or Digital Game Design

To apply, complete the online application form. As part of the application, students must submit an "essay", with the help of a parent/guardian but with ideas conceived by the child, telling why they 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, video).

If you are not applying for financial aid, parents/guardians must also submit a brief statement (a paragraph or two) describing the need for financial support.

The deadline to apply for this scholarship was April 15.

Reimbursement through a Flexible Spending Account

Parents with Flexible Spending Accounts may be eligible for tuition reimbursement (check with your accountant or tax preparer).

Sites and Locations

Leapfrog courses are offered at the off-campus sites listed below. See the Leapfrog Course Charts for specific course offerings each week at each location.

GEMS World Academy
350 East South Water Street
Chicago, Illinois

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. 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. All students receive a final, narrative evaluation of their work. Leapfrog evaluations provide feedback about the student’s engagement in the course. Evaluations are sent to families via e-mail after the end of the Summer Program season, usually by late September.

Drop Off & Pick Up

Leapfrog morning courses meet from 9 a.m. to 12 noon. At most Leapfrog sites, doors open at 8:50 a.m. and families walk students to their classrooms and drop them off between 8:50 and 9:00 a.m. At the Chicago site only, a curb-side drop off option is available. Morning-only students are picked up at 12 noon.

Afternoon courses meet from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Afternoon-only students are dropped off between 12:50 and 1:00 p.m.

Students enrolled in both a morning course and an afternoon course are automatically enrolled in the 12 noon to 1 p.m. lunch/recess program at no extra charge.

Afternoon students are picked up at 4:00 p.m.

Leapfrog all-day courses meet from 9:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., with a break for lunch. All-day students are dropped off between 9:00 and 9:15 a.m. and picked up between 3:45 and 4:00 p.m.

Before-class and after-class child care is not available at any Leapfrog sites.

Snack, Lunch & Recess

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. All-day Leapfrog courses usually take two breaks each day.

Students enrolled in both a morning course and an afternoon course, and those enrolled in all-day courses, are automatically enrolled in the 12 noon to 1 p.m. lunch/recess program at no extra charge. Teaching assistants supervise students while they eat lunch and participate in games and recreational activities. 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 during snack breaks and at lunch. If a student brings a peanut or tree nut product for snack or lunch, the item will be removed from the classroom.

Safety & Conduct

Student safety is the highest priority of the Leapfrog program. Students are under direct supervision of a staff member at all times. The Leapfrog Family Handbook (provided upon acceptance) includes detailed information about the CTD Summer Program rules and policies. These rules and policies help to ensure the safety of our students and staff.

Program Orientation

When a student is accepted into the program, the family will receive an acceptance email detailing next steps. Families will also receive a link to access an information page for enrolled students where families can download the Leapfrog Family Handbook and other important orientation 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