As of 2011, Center for Academic Advancement (CAA) was renamed to CTY: Academic Explorations (CTY AE). "Regular" CTY is now CTY: Intensive Studies (CTY IS).
CAA/AE is a program run by Johns Hopkins University that is similar to CTY, but with a broader range of entrance scores. For example, a 7th grader interested in a CTY humanities course must have a verbal score greater than 510. For CAA, they need a score greater than 410. CAA offers a different set of courses from CTY.
While in CAA, staff typically still refer to it as CTY. Lanyards and shirts say CTY on them as well. Because of this, many CAAers aren't even aware that they're in CAA.
It should also be noted that the differentiation between CTYers and CAAs will be COMPLETELY non-existent until 5th to 6th grade, when CTYers are allowed to start Residential sites, because at day sites, CTYers and CAAs share sites and classes. This doesn't tend to change people's experiences, although there tends to be less tradition.
Some popular CAA courses are Zoology, Crafting the Essay/Writing the Expository Essay, Biotechnology, Foundations of Psychology, Computer Science, Nuclear Science (now defunct), Race and Politics (now only offered at Princeton), The Mathematics of Money, and Chemistry in Society. Bristol also offers the course Whales and Estuary Systems (usually once a summer) in which students split their time at CTY between living on a boat and living on campus.
The main difference between regular CTYers and CAAs is that they have different testing scores. A CAA will have a qualifying level CTY score, whilst a regular CTYer will be required to have an advanced level (or high tier/ advanced tier) score. A qualifying level score is meant to represent intelligence approximately 2 years above that of the student's grade. An advanced level score is meant to represent intelligence approximately 4 years above a student's grade.
Some CTYers will receive a score that is considered to be grand-tier. This simply means that they are eligible for the SET, and have scored 700 or above on the Math or Evidence based reading and writing SAT at the ages of 10-13 (With 10 points being added to this for any additional months of age above 13). Although being grand-tier is well... grand, it is seldom, if not extremely rare, for a CTYer to pay any attention to this distinction as one can only receive a grand tier score by taking the SAT, which many CTYers (especially those who have been around since baby CTY) may not have taken.
Additionally, it is true and rather common that a CTYer may spend their early years at CTY with a CTY qualification score, but then retake the SCAT or take the SAT, ACT, PSAT or spacial battery test in order to achieve an advanced-tier score and attend regular CTY when they are old enough.
It should be noted that there is no distinction whatsoever between a regular CTYer and a CAA until 7th grade. This means that it may be argued that one cannot truly be a CAA or CTYer until they do their first Academic exploration or intensive study. Both day-sites and residential sites for CTYers from 2nd-6th grade only require a CTY qualification level score, and not an advanced tier CTY score, to complete courses meaning that a young CTYer may encounter several CAAs during CTY, whilst being blissfully unaware of the distinction.
Some CTYers call CAA the "Center for Average Adolescents" or "Center for Almost Accepted" (Bristol). Despite the fact that people that go to CAA generally score lower, they tend to be more chill. CAAers are just as smart as CTYers, and they are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. In addition, the students who attend CAA come from a range of diverse backgrounds and provide other students with a new, cultural experience. If one ever attends CAA, their life will probably be changed forever.
Because of the more lax prerequisites, CAAers tend to be less quirky than CTYers. At these CAA sites, you are more likely to meet the stereotypical "popular" girl or guy than at a CTY site. Also, whereas CTY contains a broad spectrum of nerd types and certainly of ideas and beliefs, CAAers may not share as many interests or the same nerd pride. In particular, there tends to be more athletes, so activities like Dodgeball and Basketball are more popular at sites like Easton and Bristol. However, this is only true in some cases. Many CAAers do indeed share a sense of tradition and nerd pride.
After going to Easton and Baltimore, it is easy to testify that the kids at Easton are simply more laid back, more likely to want to play foursquare, soccer, and other sports, more likely to get really down at the dances, and overwhelmingly are more "normal."
It seems that CAAs are favored less by the CTY organization, as they are left out of prize givings and other events and tend to receive less "mail," from CTY (e.g: The Nerd calendar)