Learn about Howard County's top-notch schools

May 30, 2011

The Howard County Public School System includes 40 elementary schools; 19 middle schools; 12 high schools; one school for students with severe disabilities; one school for students with behavioral and emotional issues; and one school for students enrolled in technical and vocational programs. The “Career Academies” offered at the Applications and Research Laboratory, which are designed both for students going immediately into trade school or work and for college-bound students, include multimedia and computer technology; biotechnology and health services; energy, power and transportation; architecture and engineering; business and entrepreneurship; hotel management; and education.  

A reflection of our diverse community, the school system enrolls students who speak more than 75 different languages and represent more than 80 countries. Schools offer special programs for students who are learning the English language.

Student Performance

The county’s public school system is a leader in the state and consistently posts some of the highest scores on statewide assessments in reading and mathematics.

On the 2010 Maryland School Assessment — a state-mandated test in reading and math that is administered to students in third through eighth grades — 92 percent of county students passed in reading and 89 percent passed in math, compared with statewide average pass rates of 85 percent in reading and 79 percent in math.

Howard County students also have high rates of participation in Advanced Placement courses and college entrance exams.

In the 2009-2010 school year, 4,323 students in Howard County’s public high schools — about 26 percent of students — enrolled in at least one Advanced Placement course, which are intended to include challenging college-level material.

County students also post high scores on optional end-of-course AP exams, which often earn them college credit. Of the 7,140 AP exams taken by county students in 2010, 81 percent of the scores were three or higher — a score often earning college credit.

Seventy-three percent of Howard County seniors in the class of 2010 took the SAT, which includes sections in critical reading, math and writing. Howard students averaged 1,639 points out of a possible 2,400 points, besting both state and national averages.

About 90 percent of Howard County students continue their education after graduation. Sixty-three percent of graduates in the class of 2010 reported enrolling at a four-year college or university, while 26 percent said they planned to attend a two-year college. Two percent planned to attend a trade or technical school.

SAT scores and performance data for specific schools can be viewed on the school system’s website at under “test scores” or at

Early Childhood Education

Parents of young children have many resources available to them. Programs vary in size and type and include parent-operated co-op preschools, private preschools, programs sponsored by religious organizations, Montessori schools, day-care programs and programs for children with disabilities.

Information about early childhood programs and services can be obtained from the following offices:

>   Howard County Child Care Resource Center, 410-313-1940,

>   Child Find, 410-313-7046. This program provides assessment and evaluation services to preschool-age children who may be in need of special education services.

>   Extended Elementary Education Program, 410-313-5660. This program, sponsored by the county school system, provides preschool for 4-year-olds from lower-income families at seven elementary schools.

>   Howard County Head Start, 410-313-6443. The program operates in two Howard County locations.

Special Needs And Alternatives

County public schools offer many programs for children with special needs. Children with disabilities are included in regular classrooms whenever possible, assisted by specialists. Cedar Lane School in Fulton is the county’s special education center that provides classes for students who are developmentally delayed and have multiple disabilities.

The Homewood Center in Ellicott City houses programs to meet the needs of individual students experiencing crisis or who have difficulty functioning in traditional classroom settings.

The private Linwood Center in Ellicott City, a pioneer in educating autistic children, offers both day and residential programs. The independent Norbel School in Elkridge enrolls children with language-based difficulties, learning disabilities or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Private Schools

Howard County is home to several private schools.

Bethel Christian Academy, in Savage, enrolls children in pre-K through eighth grade on two campuses.

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