Heather L. Schwartz

Photo of Heather Schwartz
Director, Pre-K to 12 Educational Systems Program; Senior Policy Researcher
Off Site Office


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


Heather Schwartz is the director of the Pre-K to 12 educational systems program and a senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation. She researches education and housing policies intended to reduce the negative effects of poverty on children and families. Her work falls in three policy areas intended to help close the income-based achievement gap: (1) economically integrative housing and school programs, (2) K-12 school reforms including social and emotional learning, and (3) early childhood learning opportunities. She leads mixed-method studies with experimental and non-experimental designs, and her methodological skills include benefit-cost analyses, survey design, and collecting focus group and interview data.

Schwartz earned her Ph.D. in education policy from Columbia University.

Recent Projects

  • Social and Emotional Learning Evaluation
  • Chicago Regional Housing Choice Initiative Experiment
  • School Safety and Technology
  • Delaware Stars for Early Success Evaluation

Selected Publications

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

"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

Heather Schwartz, Kata Mihaly, Breann Gala, "Encouraging residential moves to opportunity neighborhoods: An experiment testing incentives offered to housing voucher recipients," Housing Policy Debate, 2017

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), 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), 2014

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

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, 2015

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

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


  • A child places his COVID-19 testing swab in a vial at South Boston Catholic Academy in Boston, Massachusetts, January 28, 2021, photo by Allison Dinner/Reuters

    Lost Learning and the Costs of COVID-19

    President Biden's plan calls for $130 billion to help schools safely reopen and identifies summer school or other supports to help students compensate for lost learning time as permissible uses of this funding. Recent RAND research can shed light on how Congress might consider divvying up these funds to support students over the next year.

    Feb 10, 2021 The RAND Blog

  • Nine year old student Jordan in his bedroom attending online school in Broward County, Florida, March 31, 2020, photo by Johnny Louis/Reuters

    School District Leaders Indicate Online Instruction Will Outlast COVID-19. Here's What to Consider

    Remote K–12 learning at scale is an unprecedented challenge for everyone involved. It can and would improve dramatically if educators, government, and philanthropy treated it as a work in progress, featuring evidence-based development of quality online curricula, continuous improvement, and engagement of teachers.

    Jan 27, 2021 The 74

  • Hallways are empty during school closures in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, in Milton-Union Exempted Village School District in West Milton, Ohio, March 13, 2020, photo by Kyle Grillot/Reuters

    Coronavirus Will Require Changes in Schools When They Reopen to Protect Students

    Schools will likely need to modify their practices so that their teachers, staff, and students maintain social distancing standards whenever they reopen. If a federal agency would create guidance, then educators could focus on teaching students.

    Apr 16, 2020 Fox News Channel

  • Chrissy Brackett and grandson Caidence Miller learn to navigate an online learning system at her home in Woodinville, Washington, March 11, 2020, photo by Lindsey Wasson/Reuters

    Schools Pivot Online in Wake of COVID-19: Q&A with RAND Experts

    Nearly all school-age children in the United States are no longer in the classroom as districts shut down to reduce the spread of the new coronavirus. RAND education researchers discuss how this situation might exacerbate educational inequities, how districts and teachers are innovating and what they need, and what parents can do.

    Apr 2, 2020 The RAND Blog

  • Security camera in a classroom

    How Can the U.S. Do a Better Job of Keeping Kids Safe at School?

    Many proposals to improve school safety promote the use of technology, such as metal detectors and video cameras. How effective are these devices? The evidence is mixed.

    Mar 26, 2018 Fox News Channel

  • Houses in New Orleans, Louisiana

    Why Rents Have Gone Through the Roof in New Orleans and Across the Nation

    The rental affordability crisis was caused by declining incomes since 2000, the slowing of new construction, households getting smaller, and the seven million foreclosures during the recession. It is a national problem in need of a national solution.

    Aug 2, 2016 NOLA.com

  • 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