Skip to main content

Now Enrolling for Fall 2024 Online Programs

CTD Glossary

A Guide to Terms Used to Describe CTD's Pedagogy and Program Models

Above grade-level testing

Refers to when a student takes an assessment intended for students of higher grade levels. For example, taking the ACT® (which is generally administrated to students in grade 10 or 11) as a student in grade 6 or 7. Above grade-level testing is a research-validated tool for demonstrating readiness for accelerated course work and identifying domain-specific talent.


Acceleration is a strategy of helping students progress through their education at a rate commensurate with their ability (accessing advanced content faster or at ages younger than the norm). Grade-based acceleration includes options that reduce the number of years spent in school (grade advancement or grade skipping). Content-based acceleration is domain specific and students receive above-grade-level instruction within their own class or in an advanced grade at an accelerated pace (advancement in a subject area). Learn more about acceleration at CTD.

Asynchronous online learning

Asynchronous learning means students and instructors engage in class-related activities at different times, rather than in regularly scheduled synchronous class sessions. Asynchronous learning is a good fit for many gifted learners who wish to accelerate through material they have learned previously, or are able to master quickly, so that they can dedicate more time to concepts that are more challenging or of higher interest. View more about asynchronous learning, and CTD online program models with asynchronous components.

Core Essentials

Core refers to foundational subject areas, including English & Language Arts, the Humanities, mathematics, and science. CTD's Online Core Essentials courses provide instruction in these subject areas; examples of Core Essentials courses include Advanced Grammar, Advanced Reading & Writing: Non-Fiction, Anatomy & Physiology, Introduction to Global Studies, and Pre-Algebra.


As an accredited institution, CTD issues high school credit to students successfully completing Honors and AP courses. However, acceptance of credit from CTD is a local school decision. Students interested in pursuing credit should discuss their school’s policy concerning credit from outside institutions with an academic counselor or school administrator before applying.


In talent development, domain-specific refers to a particular subject area or field of study in which a student may excel or demonstrate exceptional potential. Each domain may require different skill sets and knowledge and have different trajectories or timelines for talent development (e.g. a musician compared to a philosopher). 


Enrichment is instruction that exposes students to topics or concepts not typically included in a school’s core curriculum and allows for depth and breadth of study. Enrichment often builds on areas of interest while challenging students to use concepts they may already know in new ways or to translate those concepts to new learning. Learn more about enrichment at CTD.

Flexibly paced

In flexibly paced online courses, course work is divided into units or modules that students can move through at their own pace. This allows students to accelerate through material they have learned previously, or are able to master quickly, so that they can dedicate more time to concepts that are more challenging or of higher interest. Most online courses at CTD are flexibly paced; learn more about the differences in CTD’s online program models.

Graded writing sample

An example of a student’s original writing that has been evaluated by an educator.

Guided play

Child-led exploration with materials or a setting prepared by an adult to encourage discovery of chosen concepts. CTD’s programs serving young students, including the Online Family Program, are rooted in the pedagogy of guided play.


Interdisciplinary courses or content combine two or more academic disciplines or fields of study, bringing together the knowledge and methods of the fields to create connections and encourage creativity. Interdisciplinary content facilitates inquiry, critical thinking, and creative problem-solving. 

Learning Management System (LMS)

A software application used for the administration, instruction and delivery of online learning. Schoology is the LMS used by CTD. Schoology is a user-friendly platform designed specifically for K-12 online learners, and is compliant with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). 

Live session

A synchronous, online class session led by a CTD Instructor during which students take part in academic activities at the same time. Live sessions take place via Schoology Conferences or Zoom. Live class sessions are part of some Online Program models at CTD; learn more about CTD’s various online programs.

Open enrollment

CTD’s open enrollment courses do not have eligibility criteria, which means no supporting documentation (i.e. test scores or an admissions portfolio) is required with an application. Any student who falls within the age or grade band for the course is invited to register. Learn more about eligibility for CTD courses.


Pathways are the unique trajectories of opportunities and support within a domain that enable individuals to transition potential into high achievement. Pathways often include both formal and informal learning and in-school and supplemental, outside-of-school enrichment and acceleration. Learn more about pathways at CTD. 


Some CTD courses have a prerequisite requirement, which typically involves proof of completed coursework before a student applies for the next course is a sequence or series. For example, Algebra II has a prerequisite of Algebra I. Prerequisite requirements are noted within course information in Explore Courses.

Submission limits

Course instructors may only accept a certain amount of completed course work at one time from a student (typically, 2-3 assignments or one chapter of work). This is intended to support students in pacing themselves appropriately throughout the course.


Refers to times instructors and students are interacting online at the same time, typically via a video conference. Synchronous class sessions have a designated start and end time. View more about synchronous learning, and CTD online program models with synchronous components.

Talent development

Talent development is the process of cultivating abilities and potential into competency, expertise, and creative achievement in a domain through appropriate educational opportunities, psychosocial skills, and support. CTD’s Director, Dr. Paula Olszewski-Kubilius, is a leading scholar of talent development research in gifted education. Learn more about Paula's talent development research.


As related to online learning, refers to the method by which instructors and students participate in a live, synchronous class session. CTD live class sessions take place via Schoology Conferences or Zoom.

2023 © Northwestern University Center for Talent Development