Jennifer Sloan McCombs

Photo of Jennifer McCombs
Director, Behavioral and Policy Sciences Department; Senior Policy Researcher
Washington Office


Ph.D. in public policy, The George Washington University; B.A. in East Asian studies, College of William and Mary

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email

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Jennifer McCombs is a senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation. Her research focuses on evaluating the extent to which public policies and programs improve outcomes for at-risk children and youth. Her studies combine implementation and outcome data to provide practitioners and policymakers guidance on how to improve programs and promote positive outcomes. Over the course of her career she has studied educator effectiveness, school improvement, and test-based promotion policies. She has extensive experience in studying out-of-school time systems and programs. She led an evaluation of the development of city-wide out-of-school time systems and recently completed a systematic evidence review on summer programs based on the evidence tiers specified in ESSA. She currently leads a longitudinal study of five urban districts’ summer learning programs that included a randomized controlled trial contract, extensive implementation data collection and analyses, and formative guidance to districts and their community partners.

McCombs is a frequent advisor on summer and after school programs and has served as a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Committee on Summertime Experiences and Child and Adolescent Education, Health, and Safety; the National Center on Afterschool and Summer Enrichment (NCASE) Technical Work Group; the National Summer Learning Association Research Advisory Committee; and Horizon’s National Research Advisory Group.

McCombs is also the director of the Behavioral and Policy Sciences Department and is responsible for the hiring, professional growth, and support of over 200 professional researchers located in four major offices and in offsite locations. She earned her Ph.D. in public policy from The George Washington University.

Recent Projects

  • Summer learning demonstration randomized controlled trail (RCT)
  • Intensive Partnership Sites evaluation
  • Out-of-school time systems building evaluation
  • New York City’s test-based promotion policy evaluation
  • Middle school reading coaches evaluation

Selected Publications

Augustine, C.H, McCombs, J.S., Pane, J.F., Schwartz, H.L, Schweig, J.S., McEachin, A., Siler-Evans, K. , Learning From Summer: Effects of Voluntary Summer Learning Programs on Low-income Urban Youth, RAND (RR-1557-WF), 2016

McCombs, J.S., Pane, J, Augustine, C.H., Schwartz, H.L., and Zakaras, L, Ready for Fall? Near-Term Effects of Voluntary Summer Learning Programs on Low-Income Students Learning Opportunities and Outcomes, RAND (RR-815), 2014

Augustine, C.H., McCombs, J.S., Schwartz, H.L., and Zakaras, L, Getting to Work on Summer Learning, RAND (RR-366), 2013

McCombs, J.S., Augustine, C.H., Schwartz, H.L., Bodilly, S.J., McInnis, B., Lichter, D.S., and Cross, A, Making Summer Count: How Summer Programs Can Boost Children's Learning, RAND (MG-1120), 2011

McCombs, J.S., Auger, A., Yoo, P, The Value of Out of School Time Programs, RAND (PE-267-WF), 2018

Jennifer Sloan McCombs et al., Hours of Opportunity: The Power of Data to Improve After-School Programs Citywide, RAND (MG-1037/1), 2010

Jennifer Sloan McCombs et. al., Ending Social Promotion Without Leaving Children Behind, RAND Corporation (MG-894), 2009

Jennifer Sloan McCombs et al., Achieving State and National Literacy Goals a Long Uphill Road: A Report to Carnegie Corporation of New York, RAND Corporation (TR-180-1), 2005

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: Education Week


  • Students in the Munroe Elementary School after-school garden club show off plants they are going to plant in the school's garden in Denver, Colorado, May 9, 2012

    High-Quality Out-of-School-Time Programs Are Worthy of Investment

    High-quality out-of-school-time programs can benefit youth, and tend to produce outcomes linked to program content. Funders and policymakers could maximize benefits of these programs by providing adequate resources and funding to support quality programming. It could be a wise investment for America's youth.

    Nov 19, 2018 Youth Today

  • adult classroom

    Making Extended Learning Time Worth the Investment

    Five states are experimenting with adding a substantial amount of time to the school year in some schools. This policy initiative holds promise, says Jennifer McCombs

    Dec 14, 2012 The RAND Blog