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Three Tiers of Alternative Education

The Howard County Public School System provides three tiers or levels of alternative education programming. Each tier provides increased services and supports for students.

Tier One — In-School Programs

Tier one programs are located in the local schools. The purpose of these programs is to provide students and staff with additional resources and supports that enable children displaying challenging behaviors to achieve success in their neighborhood schools. There are 32 schools with these programs:

Elementary Schools

  • Bryant Woods
  • Cradlerock
  • Deep Run
  • Elkridge
  • Guilford
  • Laurel Woods
  • Longfellow
  • Phelps Luck
  • Running Brook
  • Swansfield
  • Stevens Forest
  • Talbott Springs
  • Veterans
  • Waterloo

Middle Schools

  • Bonnie Branch
  • Cradlerock
  • Dunloggin
  • Elkridge Landing
  • Harper’s Choice
  • Mayfield Woods
  • Murray Hill
  • Oakland Mills
  • Patuxent Valley
  • Wilde Lake

High Schools

  • Atholton
  • Hammond
  • Howard
  • Long Reach
  • Mt. Hebron
  • Oakland Mills
  • Reservoir
  • Wilde Lake

Tier Two — The Gateway Programs

Gateway Middle and Gateway High School are located at the Homewood Center, Howard County’s centrally located alternative learning center. The Gateway programs serve students needing greater levels of support than can be provided in the neighborhood school. Students are referred to these programs by staff in the neighborhood schools or by Central Office Administration. Students appropriate for the Gateway programs need a very high level of support and structure in order to meet with academic and behavioral success. They benefit from small class sizes, a more personal approach to teaching and learning, and access to individual and group counseling.

Tier Three — The Passages Program

The Passages program is located at the Homewood Center. Passages serves youth in transition, including those returning to the school system from court-ordered placements, hospitalizations, and other circumstances that have removed them from regular participation in academic activities for an extended period of time. High school aged students who are not performing successfully in the Gateway program may also be placed in Passages. Students generally remain in Passages for no more than 45 school days. At the end of this period, students may move on to participation in the Gateway programs, to their neighborhood school, or to other community programs that meet their individual needs.