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Howard County 2019 Graduation Rates Outpace State Norm

February 25th, 2020

Graduation data released today by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) show Howard County public school students continuing to graduate at higher rates than their peers across Maryland, and improved slightly over rates from the previous year. The 92.78% graduation rate for the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) Class of 2019 is up nearly 1 percentage point over the 91.95% rate in 2018 and is nearly 6 percentage points above the 86.86% state average. Howard County’s rate remains the highest among the six Maryland school systems having enrollment of more than 50,000 students.

HCPSS has maintained graduation rates above 90 percent for several years. The statistics reflect data for the cohort of students graduating within four years after entering high school.

HCPSS dropout patterns echo the graduation rate trends. At 4.53%, the dropout rate for the Class of 2019 shows a slight improvement compared to the 4.76% rate for 2018, remains well below the state average of 8.42% and compares favorably to other large Maryland school systems.

While graduation rate gaps persist among student demographic groups, some groups showed notable improvement compared to the prior year. The graduation rate for Hispanic/Latinx students increased over 2 percentage points, from 76.94% in 2018 to 79.34% in 2019. Among students receiving special services, the Limited English Proficiency (LEP) and Special Education groups showed the greatest improvement, both increasing by more than 3 percentage points over the prior year, with LEP increasing from 43.44% to 47.22%, and Special Education increasing from 67.41% to 70.47%. The group designations are assigned by MSDE to track year-over-year performance.

Superintendent Michael J. Martirano has consistently emphasized the importance of improving graduation rates, especially among student groups who have lagged behind their peers. “The true measure of our success is bridging the gap for those who are falling behind,” he said. “The reality is that we cannot achieve significant change in the graduation rate overnight, and as a system we continue to strengthen our efforts around the factors that affect student success: attendance, access, achievement and acceptance.”

HCPSS focuses improvement efforts targeted to all of the major factors contributing to student engagement, achievement and ultimately, graduation. The school system’s Strategic Call to Action: Learning and Leading with Equity includes multiple strategies and performance measures aimed at improving achievement and learning engagement, with individualized instruction, equitable access to learning experiences, and special supports for at-risk and struggling students. The instructional program emphasizes education as a birth-through-graduation continuum and involves families and the community as essential partners in student success. System and school leaders analyze the root causes influencing achievement levels, and initiatives for overcoming factors that contribute to achievement gaps begin in the early grades.

MSDE posts details on graduation and dropout rates for HCPSS and other systems and individual schools on the Maryland Report Card site.