The percentage of HCPSS students who receive high school diplomas continues to rise and to outpace statewide results, according to data recently released by the Maryland State Department of Education.

At 93.4 percent, the graduation rate for the HCPSS Class of 2020 exceeded the Maryland average of 86.8 percent, and is up from 92.8 percent for 2019 and from 92 percent in 2018. Howard County’s rate remains the highest among the six Maryland school systems having enrollment of more than 50,000 students. 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 3.6 percent, the dropout rate for the Class of 2020 shows a significant improvement compared to 4.5 percent in 2019 and 4.8 percent in 2018. The HCPSS dropout rate is well below the state average of 8.3 percent and compares favorably to other large Maryland school systems.

While graduation rate gaps persist among student demographic groups, several groups showed notable improvement compared to the prior year. At 91.2 percent, the graduation rate for Black/African American students increased by more than two full percentage points from 88.7 percent in 2019. The graduation rate for Hispanic/Latinx students also showed improvement at 80.4 percent in 2020, up from 79.3 percent in 2019. Among students receiving special services, the Limited English Proficiency (LEP) group showed the greatest improvement, increasing by over 10 percentage points to 57.9 percent, from 47.2 percent last year.

The rates for students eligible for free and reduced-priced meals, which is an indicator of poverty, improved by more than five percentage points to 84.3 percent for 2020, compared to 79.1 percent last year. Graduation rates for students receiving special education services rose to 73.8 percent, up from 70.5 percent in 2019. The group designations are assigned by MSDE to track year-over-year performance.

MSDE posts details on graduation and dropout rates for HCPSS and other systems and individual schools on