Howard County Public Schools

Howard County Public Schools

The district ensures curriculum is rigorous and engaging, that progress is measured in a meaningful way, that technology is utilized to support student growth and that all students have a safe and positive learning environment.

State: Maryland Number of Students: 55,638
School Type: Public School District Free and Reduced Lunch: 21.5%
Grade Level: PK-12 English Language Learners: < 5%

School Context

Funding: Howard County Public Schools received $5.5 million in 2013 from the Digital Learning Innovation Fund and the Early College Innovation Fund to support a five-year early college access program. This program allows students to work towards a high school diploma, while simultaneously gaining half of the credits necessary to obtain an Associate’s degree through Howard Community College. Students enter this program in 10th grade and by senior year they are taking college-level course work. They received another $1,000-2,000 per educator in 2012-13 from Bright Minds Foundation to support innovation in the classroom, funding robotics programs, a NOOK pilot and more. They also offer computers, software and training to students without access to technology. They also received $100,000 in 2011 from the National Security Language Initiative’s STARTALK grant to support the world language program. The grant funded in-person and online courses in Chinese language instruction for elementary and middle school students.

Student Success: The district aims for academic success for all students by ensuring that curriculum is rigorous and engaging, that progress is measured in a meaningful way, that technology is utilized to support student growth and that all students have a safe and positive learning environment.

Supported Staff: HCPSS strives for all staff members to be engaged and feel supported. To do this, they emphasize collaboration across departments and buildings, providing professional learning opportunities and support when evaluating teachers.

Community Ties: HCPSS is building strong relationships with families and community partners. The district believes strong family engagement increases student success.

Optimizing Organizational Practices: HCPSS aims for a strong organizational culture by ensuring safety for all members of the community, recruiting and retaining high quality staff, and utilizing technology to support organization and decision-making based on performance.

State of Technology

iPad + BYOD: In 2012-13, approximately 300 students and teachers at Elkridge Landing Middle School piloted iPads in the classroom. The pilot was deemed a success, and all students at Elkridge Landing Middle School were given an iPad in fall 2013. While the program has not expanded, iPads are used for special education and other target groups across the district. At the same time, in 2013, cellphone restrictions in the district were lifted. Focus was shifted to a BYOD model, and River Hill, Mt. Hebron and Long Reach High Schools piloted this approach. In fall 2014, the BYOD program was expanded to all 12 high schools and an additional middle school (Thomas Viaduct MS). Schools are responsible for developing their own strategies to supplement devices for students unable to bring their own device to school.

Building A Digital Bridge: The district has recently supported the expansion of world language learning for elementary grades, using a proficiency-based model. The pilot will begin next year in sixth grade, starting with Spanish and expanding to Chinese. The district will use its Learning Management System to support collaboration and resources for these courses.

SIS + LMS + Data Warehouse: The district is in the middle of adopting a whole new system linking content and data. Its new SIS (EduPoint) will link to content on their new Learning Management System (Canvas), which will link to a new Data Warehouse (Edvantage). All three tools will operate with a single login. Teachers will primarily use Canvas as a gradebook, to store and manage curriculum and to communicate with students, which will synch daily with EduPoint.

Techie Teachers: HCPSS values professional learning, which is why they have created a model referred to as Personalized Professional Learning (#PPL). The district provides over 30 self-paced online courses teachers can visit to learn about some of the most popular technology tools on the market. Teachers can opt to take these courses for credit, which is provided through Electronic Registrar Online (ERO). The district also hosts frequent BYOD gatherings where teachers share their ideas and learn from their colleagues.

Organizational Efficiency: Lastly, the initiative aims to use technology to maximize efficiency for the district. This includes increasing connectivity for students through high speed Internet access, improving school security, and supporting budget planning. A growing number of schools are connected to Maryland’s Inter-County Broadband Network (ICBN). Thomas Viaduct Middle School was one of the first schools to access ICBN and the school has been able to create outdoor learning spaces with connectivity.

Tech Needs & Requirements

The district is in the middle of generating criteria for integration and data policies. Integration with a single sign on is a priority. Companies must disclose clearly how tools use data, how long it is stored and how the district gets data back. They currently need tools that support authentic learning and enable collaboration and student-driven learning.


The district is in the middle of adopting new SIS, LMS and Data warehouse systems.

The global language digital bridge program will begin pilots in 2015-16, so will support language instruction via a proficiency- based model.

*Content From 2015

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