Howard County Times
Howard County

19 Howard County schools lose a star, 10 improve rating in Maryland Report Card rankings released Thursday

Howard County continued to receive high marks in Maryland’s latest school star ratings, although 19 of 75 county schools have lost a star since 2019, the last year the accountability system known as the Maryland Report Card was used.

After a three-year pause in ratings due to the pandemic, 46 (61.3%) of the 75 Howard County public schools maintained the same number of stars, while 19 (25.3%) lost a star and 10 (13.3%) gained one.


Howard’s shifts mirror statewide averages, which saw about 63% of schools hold steady, 26% lose a star, and 11% gain a star.

While 28 Howard schools received five-star ratings — tied with Anne Arundel County for the second most of any district in the state behind Montgomery County — the system has seen an overall decline in five- and four-star schools since 2018, when the current rating system was introduced.


Maryland’s accountability system, mandated by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, uses one to five stars to rate the quality of all public schools. Unlike past rating systems employed by the state, the stars rely less on test scores and are based on a variety of factors, including academic performance, academic improvement, attendance, graduation rates and a survey that asks students and teachers about a school’s learning environment and safety.

The state made one-time adjustments to how it rated schools on factors including growth and chronic absenteeism, both of which were affected significantly by the pandemic

Of the 75 Howard public schools rated for the 2021-2022 school year, 28 (37.3%) received five stars, 23 (30.7%) received four stars, 21 (28%) received three stars and three (4%) received three stars. The Homewood Center, which offers individualized instruction for students with emotional and learning disabilities, improved from one to two stars.

Cedar Lane School and the Applications and Research Laboratory do not have enough full-time students to be evaluated.

No Howard school received a one-star designation for 2022.

In 2019, 25 (33.3%) Howard schools received five stars, 37 (49.3%) received four stars, 12 (16%) received three stars and one (1.3%) received one star.

“I think the primary area that [schools] went down in is because the math achievement data was low,” said Timothy Guy, the school system’s director of assessment and reporting. “If they were on the line previously between a four-star and a three-star school, or a three-star and a two-star school, it didn’t take much to basically lose the points in academic achievement.”

While English language arts scores remained relatively steady in Howard, math scores declined. Both language arts and math contribute to the Report Card’s academic achievement indicator, which is weighted more heavily at the elementary and middle school levels.


Since 2018, the number of three-star Howard schools has risen from six to 21 as the number of four-star schools has dipped from 36 to 23. But the system still maintains a far higher percentage of five-star schools (37.3%) relative to the state average of 16%.

Other factors that contributed to dropped stars included higher levels of chronic absenteeism and struggles with keeping English learners on track during the pandemic, according to Guy.

“Some of the schools were more impacted by isolations and shutdowns and other things like that that occurred during the 2021-2022 school year,” Guy said. “Different communities responded differently in keeping their students home.”

Although none of Howard’s 12 high schools lost a star between 2018 and 2019, in 2022 five schools experienced drops. Atholton and Howard high schools fell from five to four stars, while Hammond, Long Reach and Wilde Lake high schools fell from four to three.

Before 2022, Oakland Mills High School had been the only high school to receive a three-star rating, which it maintained this year.

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Lower math scores impacted high schools especially hard, according to Guy, who said that at many high schools fewer than 50 students — as opposed to the typical 200 to 400 — were used in the state’s measurements because fewer students took standardized tests during the pandemic.

While the star ratings provide an overarching snapshot of districtwide performance, Guy said it’s important for the system to contextualize measurements within each school to come up with actionable steps for improvement.

“Our work as a school system is to not look at the overall star ratings,” he said. “But all the measures that make up the star rating tell us something about what’s occurring.”

In addition to the star ratings, the Maryland Report Card also captures school demographics, graduation and dropout rates. Howard County’s Class of 2022 achieved a graduation rate of 94.6%, the highest in 11 years, and had a dropout rate of 3.15%, down from 4.53% for the Class of 2019.

To view the full 2022 Maryland Report Card results, visit:

For the record

A previous version of a table accompanying this article incorrectly stated how many 1-star schools and 3-star schools there are in Harford County. Baltimore Sun Media regrets the error.