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Handbook – Support Services for Students

Black Student Achievement Program

The HCPSS Black Student Achievement Program (BSAP) works to close opportunity and achievement gaps evident in the patterns of data between Black/African-American students and the student population at large. Over the years, BSAP has been a valuable resource within the school system, and to Black/African-American students, their parents and the community. Through a coordinated system of services, BSAP guides Black/African-American students to develop education, career, personal, social competencies through the foundation of The Six Ps to Excellence: Proud, Prompt, Persistent, Productive, Polite and Prepared. Programs that are an integral part of the BSAP Program are:

  • BSAP Achievement Liaisons
  • BSAP Saturday Math Academy
  • BSAP Community Based Learning Centers
  • BSAP Summer Institute
  • Celebrations of Academic Achievement, Celebration of Excellence and Community Academies in partnership with The Council of Elders of the Black Community of Howard County

For more information, visit or call 410‑313–1598.

Hispanic Achievement Program

The Hispanic Achievement Program works collaboratively with central programs and schools to achieve the school system’s goals as they pertain to Hispanic students, and ensure students are college and career ready at the time of graduation. The program also provides professional development for staff, facilitates the engagement of Hispanic families, develops leadership skills among Hispanic youth, and partners with community agencies. For more information, call 410‑313–1598.

Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA)

MESA is a structured, Grade 3–12 pre-college program that prepares students for academic and professional careers in mathematics, engineering, science and technology. The goals are to increase the number of engineers, scientists, mathematicians, and related professionals at technical and management levels, and encourage and assist minorities and females to achieve success in these fields. For more information, call 410–313–5673.

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports

PBIS is a research-based behavior system that uses acknowledgments and incentives to motivate students to make positive choices. Each PBIS school identifies three to five easy to remember behavioral expectations for students, which are communicated frequently and reinforced with acknowledgements to students. Staff members make it a point to call attention to moments when a student demonstrates positive learning behaviors. This positive reinforcement is for all students and also provides proactive support for students who need extra encouragement in making appropriate choices.

PBIS programs are currently in place in most HCPSS schools, and in many schools throughout the nation. The framework has been proven effective in fostering student engagement, academic achievement and a supportive, positive school climate.

Psychological Services

HCPSS school psychologists promote educationally- and psychologically- healthy environments for all children and adolescents by implementing research-based, effective programs that prevent academic, behavior, or social-emotional problems, enhance independence and promote optimal learning. Working directly with students, school psychologists provide mental health counseling, crisis intervention, behavioral support, assessment and other services. School psychologists also work with school staff, families and community members to provide advocacy, consultation and professional development. Your school psychologist contributes to prevention and intervention plans, such as academic support plans and/or behavioral intervention plans for students. They also participate in problem-solving teams, such as the Instructional Intervention Team described below, and schoolwide improvement teams. School psychologists work collaboratively with school teams and families to promote students’ academic, behavioral and social-emotional well-being success.

Instructional Intervention Teams

Instructional Intervention Teams (IITs) throughout Howard County work with teachers to improve student outcomes. IITs provide a structured process for supporting teachers to address students’ academic, and/or behavioral needs through examining their own perceptions and instruction. ITT members work in conjunction with staff conversations about academic and behavior data, usually when they cannot identify what a student or group of students needs to be successful. IITs promote collaboration and embedded professional learning among staff. Targeted supports are implemented to address student needs in a culturally responsive and equitable manner.

Teachers may seek support from their school’s IIT to address the academic or behavioral needs of an individual student or small group in their class. A member of the team, trained in systematic problem solving, will then collaborate with the teacher to address the concern and ensure that the parent is made aware of the process. Together the teacher and case manager gather information about the student’s performance and the instructional match. Next, strategies or interventions are developed, implemented and evaluated.

For more information about IIT, visit the HCPSS website or contact your child’s teacher or the school psychologist at your child’s school. For the name of your child’s school psychologist please contact your school’s front office or view the staff directory on your school’s website.

Student Support Teams (SSTs)

Student Support Teams (SSTs) are in every school. The purpose of the team is to connect students and families with resources and support. The ultimate goal is to enhance students’ academic achievement and well-being.

The work of SSTs includes: (1) connecting students and families with school and community resources to address identified needs, (2) monitoring student progress for effectiveness of the resources/intervention, and (3) increasing staff member knowledge of school and community resources to support students and families. Concerns are addressed in a culturally responsive and equitable manner.

When a student is referred to SST by a parent/guardian or staff member, the team meets to identify needs and discuss connecting the student/family with appropriate resources. A Student Care Coordinator is assigned to each student needing ongoing services/supports. For further information on how to refer to SST or additional information about the team, please contact the school administrator, school counselor, or classroom teacher.

Special Services

There are cases when a student may need services or support beyond IIT to succeed. Information gathered during the IIT process may indicate a need for additional support and services. If at any point a student is suspected of having an educational disability that may require special education services or a Section 504 plan, the parents are notified so they may participate fully in the process to determine the student’s eligibility.

Pupil Personnel Services

Pupil Personnel Workers (PPWs) work collaboratively with school staff, students, parents and community agencies to determine and address the factors that interfere with students’ adjustment to school and academic performance. PPWs recognize that certain risk factors in the home and/or the community may adversely affect students and prevent them from achieving at their maximum potential.

PPWs provide direct intervention and case management services to students and families who are experiencing academic and/or socio-economic difficulties. PPWs provide intervention and support for students with chronic attendance problems; assist families and schools with enrollment, guardianship, residency and placement issues; facilitate the enrollment of students who are homeless; and serve as advocates for families as needed. For the PPW assigned to your child’s school, contact the school’s front office.

School Counseling Services

The mission of the HCPSS School Counseling Department is to develop and implement a comprehensive program for all students that supports academic growth, social/emotional well-being, and college and career counseling while aligning with the HCPSS Strategic Call to Action.

School Counselors create an inclusive, safe and nurturing environment for all students. They advocate for students and collaborate with all stakeholders while cultivating a quality school counseling program which adheres to the American School Counselor Association National Model. School Counselors support students in overcoming barriers to reach personal and academic potential as well as build relationships with stakeholders to promote equity while embracing a diverse community in which everyone feels valued. It is our belief that each student has the capacity to grow, learn, and positively influence the larger community.

Title I

Title I, Part A, is a federal program that provides financial support for identified schools to provide additional academic and social-emotional support to help children master challenging curricula and meet state standards. Title I funds support schoolwide programs, which may include additional language arts and mathematics instruction/tutoring, materials of instruction, social-emotional learning supports, and additional classroom or intervention teachers. Title I also provides programs for families at Title I schools. Professional learning opportunities are available for teachers at Title I schools. For more information, please contact the Title I Office at 410‑313–7099.

Special Education and Related Services

Each child with an educational disability is entitled to a “free appropriate public education” under the federal mandates for special education. Special education provides specially designed instruction and related and support services to meet the individual needs of a child with a disability at no cost to parents. Students who may need special education services should be discussed with school staff and/or referred in writing to a school-based Individualized Educational Program (IEP) team to determine the need for evaluation. Those children whose evaluation results meet the federal and state guidelines for the identification of an educational disability are entitled to receive special education as well as related and support services through an IEP, as needed.

The IEP Team, which includes the parent, is responsible for developing an IEP for the child. The IEP is a written description of the educational program, including specific goals and objectives, and accommodations, to be provided to the student. In order for a child to benefit from specially designed instruction, additional or related support services may be required. These services include, but are not limited to: physical therapy, assistive technology, audiology, counseling, occupational therapy, orientation and mobility services, counseling, psychological services, school health services, speech/language therapy, and/or transportation. For more information, please contact your school or the Department of Special Education at 410‑313–5351. Parents can also visit

Child Find

The Howard County Public School System seeks to identify students ages 3 to 21 who are suspected of having a disability and may be in need of special education and related services. Parents, medical personnel and other concerned individuals may call the Child Find Program at the County Diagnostic Center, 410–313–7046 or email, to begin the referral process for pre-school age children and students who attend private/parochial schools. Referrals for infants and toddlers, birth to three years old, who may be developmentally delayed or at risk, should be made to the Howard County Infants and Toddlers Program, 410–313–7017 or online at

Local School Special Education

Every elementary, middle and high school provides special education for students who are identified as eligible for service through the IEP team process. Special Education and related and support services are determined through the development of an IEP and are offered in the student’s home school or another Howard County school when it is determined the student requires more intensive services. These services would be provided in a school closest to the child’s home school. If eligible, Extended School Year (ESY) services may also be provided to meet the individual needs of each student with disability. Eligibility for ESY services is determined every year by the IEP team using specific criteria outlined by the state of Maryland.

Early Intervention Services

Early Intervention provides special education and related services to children from birth to 5 and their families. The Infants and Toddlers Program delivers services to children ages birth to 36 months who are developmentally delayed or who show atypical development. Regional Early Childhood Centers (RECC) provide special education and related services to children ages three to five, not including kindergarten.

Family Support and Resource Center

The Family Support and Resource Center is designed to help families of children with special needs, ages birth to 21. Services include workshops, assistance with the IEP process, newsletters, a lending library, facilitation of parent support groups, service referrals, and more. The center is open during the school year, Monday through Friday during regular school hours, and over the summer by appointment. The center is located at Old Cedar Lane Building, 5451 Beaverkill Rd., Columbia, MD 21044.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 for Students

Howard County public schools recognizes and supports the right of all students to enjoy access to HCPSS educational programs and activities. Our student population is strengthened by our commitment to embrace all learners, including those with disabilities. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 guarantees that students with disabilities have the ability to access a free appropriate public education and are protected against discrimination.

Students who meet the Section 504 plan eligibility guidelines will have a Section 504 Plan developed for use in school in accessing educational programs and activities. The plan specifies the nature of the impairment, the major life activity affected by the impairment, accommodations necessary to provide access based on the student’s needs and various settings, and the person(s) responsible for implementing the accommodations.

Any student who may need a Section 504 accommodation plan should be referred to their school’s Section 504 Administrative Building coordinator to set up an eligibility meeting. Those students whose 504 Team evaluation indicates the student meets the federal guidelines regarding eligibility will have a Section 504 accommodation plan developed.

If a parent or student is dissatisfied with decisions regarding their/their child’s identification, evaluation and/or educational placement/program, they may request a:

  • Section 504 review
  • Section 504 impartial hearing
  • Office of Civil Rights review

For more information, please contact your school’s Section 504 Administrative Building Coordinator or the HCPSS 504 Coordinator at 410–313–1252. Parents and students can also visit the HCPSS Section 504 webpage for more information.

Special Education Resources for Parents

Family Support and Resource Center 410–313–7161

Maryland State Dept. of Education
Division of Special Education/
Early Intervention Services

Parents Place of Maryland

Gifted and Talented

The HCPSS Gifted and Talented (G/T) Education Program provides accelerated and enriched services and talent development opportunities for students at the elementary, middle and high school levels. The program’s talent development focus enables students to launch their own talent trajectories as they discover and build upon their individual strengths and interests.

The G/T Education Program’s in-school academic offerings extend and enrich the regular school program in kindergarten through Grade 12. After-school programs in advanced mathematics and performing arts are available to students. G/T Resource Teachers at each school instruct students in various program offerings and provide additional program information to students and their families.
For more information about the G/T program, contact the Gifted and Talented Education Program at 410–313‑6800, or visit

Alternative Education

Alternative education supports students’ academic growth and positive learning behaviors in the classroom. Students are provided learning opportunities on social-emotional and self-regulation skills that enable them to perform at higher academic levels. Staff monitor individual student growth and personalize their programs to provide the most appropriate levels of support for the students in their school. Currently, 31 schools have alternative education programs (14 elementary, 9 middle, and 8 high).

The Gateway Program is an alternative education program within the Homewood Center, established for middle and high school students whose behavioral and academic needs require additional interventions and supports that are available at the Homewood Center.

The evening school program is an interim disciplinary placement providing educational opportunities for selected middle and high school students after normal school hours. Credit recovery and original credit courses are offered for eligible and/or interested students. For more information, please contact the Coordinator of Student Support Programs at 410‑313–7178.

English for Speakers of Other Languages

The English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Program provides English language development instruction for English Learners (ELs) in kindergarten through Grade 12. In elementary schools, the ESOL program provides language services to students through a combination of EL specific and co-taught instructional models. English Learners in Grades 6–12 participate in English language development classes and/or co-taught content classes. ESOL teachers at all levels provide direct instruction that is focused on the academic language of English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. ESOL programs are provided at all Howard County schools.

The ESOL program is staffed by certified ESOL teachers and ESOL paraeducators. For more information about the HCPSS ESOL Program, contact the program coordinator, Tamisha Sampson, at 410‑313–6669.

International Student and Family Services

The Office of International Student and Family Services (OISFS) builds bridges to ensure that international families and the community are engaged and supported as partners in their children’s education. Our staff promotes communication between families and educators, and ensures equitable access to information and resources provided by the school system. We enhance the capacity of international families to enter and actively engage in the vibrant school system community. For more information, call 410–313–1294.

The OISFS also offers the International Parent Leadership Program (IPLP) to parents. IPLP is designed to increase leadership capacity of international parents to step into leadership roles in schools and communities as advocates on behalf of the system’s international students. The six-week program helps international parents understand the framework of the U.S. educational system and the structure and functions of HCPSS.

International high school students entering the school system who need language support may register at the International Student Registration Center (ISRC). Staff will assess students’ English proficiency levels, evaluate transcripts and provide a brief orientation. For information, call the ISRC at 410‑313‑1525 (English/Spanish).

Chin, Chinese, Korean and Spanish speaking families may call the International Call Center and leave messages in their native language.

  • Chin: 410–313–5968
  • Chinese: 410–313–5920
  • Spanish: 410–313–1591
  • Korean: 410–313–1592

For all other languages, families may call the Interpreting Office at 410–313–7102.

Summer Programs

HCPSS offers a wide variety of summer program options for students entering Grades K–12.

BSAP Summer Institute

(Grades K–9) – The BSAP Summer Institute program extends learning by providing acceleration and enrichment opportunities to HCPSS students entering Grades K–9. In the morning, students take grade-level specific academic courses (reading/English and math). In the afternoon, students are offered a wide range of enrichment opportunities.

Gifted and Talented Summer Institute for Talent Development

(Grades 1–8) – The G/T Summer Institutes program provides students entering Grades 1–8 with advanced-level instruction and enrichment experiences not regularly available during the academic school year. Rigorous instruction focusing on talent development is offered in mathematics, science, social studies, language arts, technology and fine arts.

Innovative Pathways Comprehensive Summer School High School

(Grades 9–12) – The Innovative Pathways high school program provides diploma-bound students entering Grades 9–12 with opportunities to support academic achievement and acceleration. The program offers high school credit-bearing courses in a variety of content areas and levels.

HCPSS summer programs are held between late June and early August. Program schedules may vary. For more information, visit