Heather L. Schwartz

Photo of Heather Schwartz
Associate Director, RAND Education; Policy Researcher
New Orleans Office


Ph.D. in education policy, Columbia University; B.A. in English, Swarthmore College


Heather Schwartz is a policy researcher at the RAND Corporation, associate director of RAND Education, and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. She researches education and housing policies intended to reduce the negative effects of poverty on children and families. Her work falls in four policy areas intended to help close the income achievement gap: economically integrative housing and school programs, early childhood learning opportunities, school choice, and school accountability measures. She is interested in experimental and non-experimental methods to make causal inferences about the effects of public policies. Her methodological skills include benefit-cost analyses, quantitative analysis of large secondary data sets, survey design, and collecting focus group and interview data. Schwartz earned her Ph.D. in education policy from Columbia University.

Recent Projects

  • National Summer Learning Demonstration
  • Chicago Regional Housing Choice Initiative Experiment
  • Delaware Stars for Early Success Evaluation
  • Window of Opportunity Evaluation
  • Public Housing Integration and Social Networks

Selected Publications

Heather Schwartz, Susan Burkhauser, Beth Ann Griffin, David Kennedy, Hank Green, Alene Kennedy-Hendricks, Craig Pollack, "Do the Joneses Help You Keep Up? A Natural Experiment in Exposure to Non-Poor Neighbors," Housing Policy Debate (forthcoming)

Craig Pollack, Hank Green, David Kennedy, Beth Ann Griffin, Alene Kennedy-Hendricks, Susan Burkhauser, Heather Schwartz, "The impact of public housing on social networks: a natural experiment," American Journal of Public Health, 104(9):1642-1649, 2014

Randall Reback, Jonah Rockoff, Heather Schwartz, "Under Pressure: Job Security, Resource Allocation, and Productivity in Schools Under No Child Left Behind," American Economic Journal, 6(3):207-41, 2014

Catherine Augustine, Jennifer Sloan McCombs, Heather Schwartz, Laura Zakaras, Getting to Work on Summer Learning. Recommended Practices for Success, RAND Corporation (RR-366), 2013

Laura Hamilton, Heather Schwartz, Brian Stecher, Jennifer Steele, "Improving Accountability through Expanded Measures of Performance," Journal of Educational Administration, 51(4), 2013

Henry Levin, Heather Schwartz, "Comparing Costs of Early Childhood Care and Education Programs: An International Perspective," Hacienda Pública Española, 201:39-66, 2012

"Housing policy is school policy: Economically integrative housing promotes academic success in Montgomery County, Maryland," in Richard D. Kahlenberg, The Future of School Integration, Century Foundation, 2012

Henry Levin, Heather Schwartz, "Educational Vouchers for Universal Preschools," Economics of Education Review, 26:3-16, 2007

Honors & Awards

  • Phi Beta Kappa, Swarthmore College
  • Mellon Interdisciplinary Graduate Fellow, Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy, Columbia University
  • Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellow, Spencer Foundation


  • two preschool children using colored pencils

    Narrowing the Income Achievement Gap

    The achievement gap between children from the highest- and lowest-income families has substantially grown since 1960. The income achievement gap is now about twice the size of the black-white achievement gap.

    Jun 12, 2014 Education Week

  • family looking at house

    Narrowing the Economic Achievement Gap: The Role of Housing

    The results from Montgomery County demonstrate that an integrative housing policy can be an effective form of school policy for disadvantaged children, writes Heather Schwartz.

    Jan 11, 2012 Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity