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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.

Glenelg Country School is an independent college preparatory day school on an 87-acre campus in western Howard County. The school enrolls about 800 students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.

Also situated in western Howard County is Chapelgate Christian Academy, a school founded by the Chapelgate Presbyterian Church in 1991. It enrolls more than 450 students in grades six-12.

The Columbia Jewish Community School was founded in 1971. It offers classes on Sundays and Thursdays that instruct children in pre-kindergarten through seventh grade in Hebrew reading and prayer, and classes for teens that incorporate teaching of Torah with Jewish perspectives on current issues.

Temple Isaiah, in Fulton, and the Beth Shalom Congregation, in Columbia, also operate Jewish education programs.

In Ellicott City, the Sisters ofNotre Dame¿¿¿ de Namur sponsor Trinity School, an independent Catholic school for children in kindergarten through eighth grade. Nearby is Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School, also serving kindergarten through eighth grade.

St. Augustine School in Elkridge, a Roman Catholic parochial school that celebrated its 150th year in 2007, enrolls children in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.

The Young School, in Columbia, offers private schooling for infants and toddlers through kindergarten.

Higher Education

There are many opportunities for adults to pursue lifelong learning at Howard Community College¿ and county branches of regional and national schools and universities.

>   Howard Community College offers two-year degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences, business and humanities, with a special emphasis on health-related fields such as nursing and cardiovascular technology.

>   HCC’s Business Training Center, located in Columbia Gateway, offers training in management, computers and advanced technology. The college also offers noncredit courses in such areas as travel, foreign languages, arts and crafts and real estate principles, as well as classes for school-age children.

>   Johns Hopkins University¿ operates a Columbia center with upper division and graduate programs in education, administration, arts and sciences, and organization and human resource development. Located in Columbia Gateway, the center also has noncredit courses, computer laboratories and intercampus library facilities.

>   Loyola College’s Columbia campus, offers master’s degrees in education, business, and speech and hearing. Loyola has a highly touted pastoral counseling program and conducts noncredit seminars devoted to professional review. The Business Center in Owen Brown serves as headquarters for Loyola’s Center for Family, Work and Education.

>   The University of Maryland’s University College offers a variety of evening classes for credit at local high schools and at Fort Meade.

>   Lincoln Technical Institute’s Columbia branch offers courses in automotive technology, heating and ventilation and culinary arts.

>   The University of Phoenix has a Columbia branch that offers programs leading to bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration, business management, information technology, human resources and e-business.

Howard County Library

Central (Columbia Town Center)
410-313-7800, TTY 410-313-7883

East Columbia
410-313-7700, TTY 410-313-7740

410-313-5077, TTY 410-313-5090

410-313-5577, TTY 410-313-5597

Miller (Ellicott City)
410-313-1950, TTY 410-313-1957

410-880-5975, TTY 410-880-5979

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