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-kindergarten classes, is nearly 59,000 students.
A reflection of a diverse community, the school system enrolls students from 149 countries who speak 117 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.
Howard County students also have high rates of participation in Advanced Placement courses and college entrance exams. In 2019, more than 11,000 Howard County students took at least one AP exam. Of those, about 76% earned a score of 3 or higher, which often qualifies for college credit. Howard County seniors in the class of 2019 who took the SAT exam — which includes sections in reading, writing and math — averaged 1,202 points out of a possible 1,600, and those who took the ACT exam averaged 25.6 points out of a possible 36, once again besting state and national averages on both exams.
In 2019, more than a third of the county’s schools received top 5-star ratings in a comprehensive ranking program required by the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. About 84% 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. The percentage of 3,966 Howard County high school graduates in 2019 who planned to attend more than 350 four-year- or two-year colleges will be published at mdreportcard.org when available.
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, howardcountymd.gov/children. The center assists parents in locating licensed childcare and provides information, training and data on childcare to parents and childcare 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 need special education services.
Child Find, 410-313-7046, hcpss.org/special-education. This program provides assessment and evaluation services to children ages 3 to 5 who may need 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, in foster care or who are homeless, at selected school sites.
Special needs education
County public schools offer several 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, enrolling at least 200 students, include:
Atholton Adventist Academy, in Columbia, enrolls about 220 students in kindergarten through grade 10.
Bethel Christian Academy, with two campuses, one in Savage and another in Jessup, enrolls about 255 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 more than 750 students age 2 through grade 12.
Also in western Howard County is Chapelgate Christian Academy, a school founded by the Chapelgate Presbyterian Church in 1991. It enrolls about 300 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 acres for children in prekindergarten through eighth grade that enrolls about 310 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 400 students in prekindergarten through eighth grade.
Children’s Manor Montessori, which has locations in Columbia, Elkridge and Ellicott City in addition to others across the state, enrolls about 435 students in prekindergarten through fifth grade in Howard County.
In Clarksville, the Catholic St. Louis School has an enrollment of around 525 students in prekindergarten through eighth grade.
The Episcopal 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 degrees, training and certificate programs in the arts, sciences, business and humanities, with an 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.
HCC’s Charles I. Ecker Business Training Center, 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.
Johns Hopkins University operates a Columbia center designed to serve adult students with upper-division and graduate programs in counseling and human services, 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, pastoral counseling and spiritual care 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 Global Campus offers a variety of evening classes and computer labs 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.
Public schools at a glance
- 77 schools
- 58,868 students
- 4,820 teachers
- $85.22 per pupil expenditure per day
- $15,340 per pupil per year
- $901.3 million operating budget in fiscal 2020
HCPSS phone numbers
Public information: 410-313-6682
Board of Education: 410-313-7194
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
Family Support and Resource Center: 410-313-7161
Howard County is home to the only five-star-rated library system in the state. Its East Columbia and Elkridge branches have recently undergone extensive renovation; the original Central Library, expected to be demolished within the next five years as part of the Columbia revitalization project, is under consideration for redevelopment in the proposed Merriweather District in downtown Columbia.
10375 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia
410-313-7800, TRS 711
6600 Cradlerock Way, Columbia
410-313-7700, TRS 711
6540 Washington Blvd., Elkridge
410-313-5077, TRS 711
2350 State Route 97, Cooksville
410-313-5577, TRS 711
Charles E. Miller
9421 Frederick Road, Ellicott City
410-313-1950, TRS 711
9525 Durness Lane, Laurel
410-313-0760, TRS 711
Find library hours, the 2020 HCLS Master Plan and more at hclibrary.org.