NAIS Equity Design Lab (EDL)

NAIS Equity Design Lab

Registration for the 2023 NAIS Equity Design Lab: Grading for Equity has reached capacity.

2023 NAIS Equity Design Lab: Grading for Equity
July 26-28, 2023
University School, Nashville, TN

Exemplary teaching—the artful blend of content knowledge, zest for learning, and abiding concern for each student and their unique needs and aspirations—is a hallmark of independent education. But what about exemplary grading? 

For a fourth year, NAIS is pleased to present Grading For Equity, a three-day institute and Equity Design Lab (EDL) that improves grading, increases intrinsic motivation, and reduces bias in assessment. This institute is led by Joe Feldman, noted educator and author of Grading for Equity: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How It Can Transform Schools and Classrooms.

EDL participants will examine how the continued use of traditional grading practices often unwittingly reinforces century-old beliefs about students' academic and intellectual capacities, perpetuates opportunity gaps, creates more stressful classrooms, and unintentionally rewards students with more resources while penalizing those with fewer material and financial supports. This highly interactive program will synthesize education research and practical classroom-based experience to address these questions:

  • Why is improving grading critical to ensuring academic excellence and equity in our classrooms?
  • Which century-old beliefs drove the creation of many of our current grading practices?
  • How does continued use of regressive grading practices thwart effective teaching, focus students on points instead of learning, add to their stress and anxiety, and undermine our equity work by perpetuating the very racial and economic disparities we seek to interrupt? 
  • What grading practices are more accurate and bias-resistant, and build students’ intrinsic motivation to learn? 
  • What are some common challenges to successfully integrating new grading practices into our classrooms and schools and effective strategies for overcoming them?
  • What is action research, and how can it illuminate the benefits more equitable grading practices?
  • How do we bring these ideas to our school and lead system-wide change, while balancing teacher autonomy with an imperative to make our grading more equitable in every classroom?


Participants will:
  • Understand the 100-year-old history of current grading practices and recognize the ways they undermine equity, learning, and teaching
  • Reflect on previous experiences and beliefs about grading and the implications they hold for equitable grading
  • Learn the three Pillars of Equitable Grading and the accurate, bias-resistant, and motivational grading practices
  • Examine and anticipate the challenges and opportunities involved in implementing equitable grading
  • Gain greater clarity on how these practices can be implemented in classroom contexts across grade levels and subjects
  • Develop strategic plans to build teacher learning and capacity to implement more equitable grading practices in schools in 2023-24


NAIS recommends participants register in school teams composed of both teachers and administrators to ensure more diverse perspectives and to promote more productive planning and cross-role coordination. While many teachers have autonomy over their grading practices, the grades those teachers assign—and students’ and families’ experience with receiving those grades—do not exist in a vacuum. Administrators need a clear understanding of equitable grading to support faculty, communicate effectively to caregivers, and to lead schoolwide change.

Whether part of a team or not, each registrant’s head of school and division director will be invited to participate in a pre-institute Zoom call to provide an overview of the institute content, specific outcomes to expect, and specific ways to leverage their investment in this professional development during the 2023-24 year. Within this context, the EDL on Grading for Equity is a robust experience for:

  • Teachers
  • Instructional coaches
  • Curriculum directors
  • Instructional support staff
  • Diversity directors and educators
  • Academic deans
  • Heads of school and division heads
  • Other faculty and leadership from NAIS member and subscriber schools

Registration Information 

Registration for 2023 NAIS Equity Design Lab: Grading for Equity has reached capacity. 

Registration Pricing Early Bird Pricing
Standard Pricing
Member Price $1,485 $1,705
Nonmember Price* $2,125 $2,435

NAIS has reserved a block of rooms at the Kimpton Aertson Hotel (2021 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203) at the discounted rate of $219/night plus applicable taxes and fees. Click here to book your room at our discounted rate or call 877-239-2269. 

*Contact us for more information about the benefits of NAIS membership, including discounted event pricing.


Programming will take place from 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM each day, July 26-28.

2023-2024 Faculty

  • Joe Feldman, CEO, Crescendo Education Group
  • Courtney Fenner, facilitator, Crescendo Education Group, and former director of equity and inclusion, Maret School (DC)
  • Caroline G. Blackwell, vice president, equity and justice, NAIS 
  • Tony Hernandez, project and training manager, equity and justice, NAIS

Cancellation Policy

Cancellations must be received in writing at this email address: [email protected]. Cancellations received up to 30 days (June 27) prior to the start date of the program will be fully refunded, less a $75 administrative fee. Cancellations received less than 30 days prior to the program will not be refunded.

Contact Information

Please contact [email protected] or (202) 973-9700 if you have any questions.