Rachel Hickson

Rachel A. Hickson, M.A.

Research Scientist

Rachel Hickson is a research scientist at Activate Research. As a career social scientist, Rachel has conducted research, evaluation, and technical assistance for public interest entities. For Montgomery County Public Schools (MD), one of the nation’s largest and most diverse school systems, Rachel led policy and program evaluations of secondary mathematics teaching and learning, gifted and talented programs, middle school policy reform, elementary reading programs, summer school programs, and student discipline. Her work to ensure high-quality data collection includes training and support for over 200 schools in conducting mandated state assessments, gifted and talented screening, the SAT, the PSAT, and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). She also worked with state and local leaders as well as over 300 special educators in 90 schools to successfully administer structured assessments to non-diploma special education students. For the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Rachel provided technical and fiscal support for $500 million in annual grants to states, territories, and tribes operating federally mandated programs for children and families. For the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Rachel served as project officer for the state’s largest-ever investment in human services research: an investigation of the effects of changes to federal public assistance laws on 2,000 families over five years. As part of that project, she developed a needs assessment instrument for long-term recipients of public assistance. The National Conference of State Legislatures and U.S. Department of Labor showcased the instrument nationally, and multiple other state agencies adopted it for their own use. Rachel has held offices at the national and chapter levels in the American Educational Research Association, American Evaluation Association, and American Association for Public Opinion Research. She holds an M.A. in applied sociology from Rutgers University.