Howard County students continue to outperform their fellow students across the state when it comes to required High School Assessment exams.

In Howard County, 97 percent of graduating seniors passed the HSAs in 2012, according to the school system, compared to about 90 percent statewide.

The Maryland State Department of Education released the 2012 results Oct. 31.

According to state data, more than 95 percent of students at 11 of the county's 13 high schools passed the required HSAs in algebra/data analysis, biology and English (at individual schools, percentages higher than 95 percent are not specified to protect the identities of students)

Students at Long Reach High School had a 94.3 percent pass rate, and students at the Homewood Center had an 87.1 percent pass rate. The Homewood Center is a school for students who have difficulty functioning in a traditional classroom environment, according to the school system's website.

In Howard County, more than 95 percent of seniors passed the algebra/data analysis and biology tests, compared to 87.9 percent and 84.9 percent statewide respectively. On the English test, 93.8 percent of county seniors passed, compared to 86.4 state-wide.

Also last week, MSDE released the new graduation rates for the Class of 2011 cohort — students who entered high school in the 2007-2008 school year.

For the Class of 2011 cohort in Howard County, the four-year graduation rate was 90.6 percent, up from last year’s 89.5 percent, according to the school system. Statewide, the on-time graduation rate was 82.8 percent.

Howard County’s black and Hispanic students also had higher on-time graduation rates than the state: 81 percent of black students and 78.8 percent of Hispanic students graduated on time, compared to 76.1 percent and 71.8 percent statewide, respectively.

Dropout rates in Howard County are also down: 5.9 percent compared to the previous year’s 7.2 percent. Statewide, the 2011 dropout rate was 11.2 percent.

“In HCPSS, we are working to ensure that all of our students graduate, and that our high school diplomas are a promise of preparation for college or liveable-wage work,” Superintendent Renee Foose said in a statement. “Our reform efforts are focused on teaching students to succeed in tomorrow’s world through a relevant, rigorous curriculum and personalized learning. The graduation rate is one measure that helps us to understand the extent to which we are fulfilling this promise.”