Education and schools in Howard County

Intern Irma Murhutta works with students in an English class at Reservoir High School. She is among three Reservoir graduates who received scholarships to attend McDaniel College and are minoring in education. They are interned at their alma mater for the month of January.
Intern Irma Murhutta works with students in an English class at Reservoir High School. She is among three Reservoir graduates who received scholarships to attend McDaniel College and are minoring in education. They are interned at their alma mater for the month of January. (Doug Kapustin / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

The Howard County Public School System includes 42 elementary schools; 20 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. Total enrollment, excluding pre-K classes, is nearly 58,000 students.

A reflection of a diverse community, the school system enrolls students from 100 countries who speak 82 languages, and schools offer special programs for students who are learning English.



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.


In spring 2018, Howard County students took the state’s Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) Assessment in its last year and performed better than the state average.

In this year’s readers’ poll, more than 17,000 voters selected their favorite people, places and organizations across Howard County.

Howard County students also have high rates of participation in Advanced Placement courses and college entrance exams. In 2018, more than 11,331 Howard County students took at least one AP exam. Of those, 82 percent earned a score of 3 or higher, which often qualifies for college credit. Howard County seniors in the class of 2018 who took the SAT exam – which includes sections in reading, writing and math – averaged 1,206 points out of a possible 1,600, once again besting state and national averages.

More than 80 percent of the 3,937 Howard County high school graduates in the class of 2018 reported plans to continue their education at a four-year or two-year college. The class boasted a four-year graduation rate of more than 92 percent, compared to the state average of 88 percent.

In 2018, nearly half of the county’s schools received top 5-star ratings in a new, comprehensive ranking program required by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. About 90 percent of county schools rated received four or five stars.


SAT scores and performance data for specific schools can be viewed on the school system’s website at hcpss.org or at mdreportcard.org.


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, howardcountymd.gov/children. The Resource Center assists parents in locating licensed childcare and provides information, training and data on child care to parents and child care professionals.

Howard County Infants and Toddlers Program (also called Early Beginnings) 410-313-7017, hcpss.org/special-education. This program provides assessment and evaluation services to children below the age of 3 who may be in need of special education services.

In Howard County Schools’ latest reaffirmation that the system works to serve all students, a workgroup developed a set of guidelines for staff members to use to support and provide safe spaces for transgender and gender nonconforming students.

Child Find, 410-313-7046, hcpss.org/special-education. This program provides assessment and evaluation services to children 3-5 years old who may be in need of special education services.

Howard County Head Start, 410-313-6443, cac-hc.org. This preschool program for low-income 3- to 5-year-olds is offered in four locations.

Pre-K, 410-313-5693, hcpss.org/schools/pre-k-programs. The county school system’s program provides preschool for 4-year-olds, primarily from lower-income families, at 26 elementary schools.


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, which provides classes for students ages 3 through 21 who are developmentally delayed and have multiple disabilities.

The Homewood Center in Ellicott City houses programs to meet the needs of students in middle and high schools who have difficulty functioning in traditional classroom settings.

The private Linwood Center in Ellicott City, which educates autistic children and adults, offers day and residential programs, as well as community-based residential services.

The Maryland School for the Deaf in Columbia offers a nurturing educational environment for hearing-impaired children from infancy through eighth grade.


Howard County is home to about four-dozen private and church-operated schools. Some of the largest private schools in the county include:

Bethel Christian Academy, with two campuses located in Savage and Jessup, enrolls roughly 325 children in prekindergarten through eighth grade.

Glenelg Country School is an independent college preparatory day school on a 90-acre campus in western Howard County. The school enrolls about 750 students age 2 through grade 12.

Also situated in western Howard County is Chapelgate Christian Academy, a school founded by the Chapelgate Presbyterian Church in 1991. It enrolls about 325 students in preschool and grades six to 12 at its 63-acre campus.

In Ellicott City, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur sponsor Trinity School, an independent Catholic school on 48 wooded acres for children in prekindergarten through eighth grade that enrolls about 350 students.

Resurrection-St. Paul, also in Ellicott City, is a Catholic school serving the parishes of The Church of the Resurrection and St. Paul’s Church. The school enrolls about 420 students in prekindergarten through 8th grade.

Children’s Manor Montessori, which has locations in Columbia, Elkridge and Ellicott City in addition to others across the state, enrolls roughly 350 students in prekindergarten through fifth grade in Howard County.

In Clarksville, the Catholic St. Louis School has an enrollment of around 520 students in prekindergarten through 8th grade.

The Episcopalian St. John’s Parish Day School in Ellicott City offers classes from prekindergarten through fifth grade and enrolls around 330 students.




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 in Columbia offers two-year degree, training 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 selective Rouse Scholars program incorporates honors-level courses, leadership development, service learning, professional mentoring and international travel. The college also offers noncredit courses at various campus locations in such areas as history and culture, foreign languages, arts and crafts, and retirement planning, as well as classes for school-age children.

Howard County's School Board voted to request nearly $1 billion in funding for next school year. The funds will come from the Howard County Government, the state of Maryland, federal government and other sources.

HCC’s Charles I. Ecker Business Training Center, located in Columbia Gateway, offers customized and individual training in management, computers and advanced technology, in person and online as well as business consulting services and co-sponsorships.

The Johns Hopkins University operates a Columbia center designed to serve adult students with upper-division and graduate programs in counseling and human services, public safety leadership, special education and teacher development and leadership. The center also has noncredit courses, computer laboratories and intercampus library facilities.

Loyola University of Maryland operates a graduate center at a Columbia campus, which offers master’s degrees in education, business, liberal studies and speech language pathology.

Maryland University of Integrative Health in North Laurel is a private nonprofit graduate school of Eastern medicine. The school, which offers outpatient care along with programs in acupuncture, herbal medicine, yoga therapy and health coaching, earned university accreditation in 2013 and began offering doctoral programs in 2015.

The University of Maryland’s University College offers a variety of evening classes at Dorsey Station in Elkridge.

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


77 schools

57,801 students

4,700 teachers

$84.83 per pupil expenditure per day

$15,270 per pupil per year

$861.9 million operating budget in fiscal 2019

Find more public school information at hcpss.org


Main: 410-313-6600

Public information: 410-313-6682

Board of Education: 410-313-7194

Buses: 410-313-6732

Special education: 410-313-6659

Community Advisory Council: 410-313-6682

International Student and Family Services: 410-313-1293

Superintendent’s office: 410-313-6677

Ombudsman: 410-313-6850

Family Support & Resource Center: 410-313-7161

Find more public school information at hcpss.org.

The county school system announced Monday that all four of its “inclement weather make-up days” have been used and as a result all schools will be in session until June 21.


Howard County is home to the only five star-rated library system in the state. It recently reopened the East Columbia and Elkridge branches in 2018 after extensive renovations.


10375 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia

410-313-7800, TTY 410-313-7883

East Columbia

6600 Cradlerock Way, Columbia

410-313-7700, TTY 410-313-7740


6540 Washington Blvd., Elkridge

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


2350 State Route 97, Cooksville

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


9421 Frederick Road, Ellicott City

410-313-1950, TTY 410-313-1957


9525 Durness Lane, Laurel

410-313-0760, TTY 410-880-5867

Find library hours and more at hclibrary.org.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun