NAIS Equity Design Lab (EDL)

NAIS Equity Design Lab

Registration for the 2022 NAIS Equity Design Lab: Grading for Equity has closed.

The NAIS Equity Design Lab returns in person in 2022! Click here to learn about COVID-19 safety protocols for NAIS events.

July 13-15, 2022
University School, Nashville, TN

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The NAIS Equity Design Lab (EDL) is a leadership and professional development experience that encourages participants to use and share design principles, action research, collaborative skill-building, and best and emerging practices. The goal is to develop innovative solutions and models that independent schools can use to address challenges and opportunities related to equity and social justice inside and out of the classroom.

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 grading?

To lead the 2022 EDL, NAIS is pleased to join forces with Joe Feldman, noted educator and author of Grading for Equity: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How It Can Transform Schools and Classrooms. This institute will help teachers explore the ways traditional grading unwittingly reinforces century-old beliefs about students' academic and intellectual capacities. It will invite teachers to examine whether their grading practices unintentionally reward students with more resources and penalize those with fewer material and financial supports. EDL participants will test and challenge long-held standards to help ensure they don’t perpetuate knowledge, skill, and opportunity gaps.

This three-day interactive workshop 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 classrooms? How did we arrive at our current grading practices, and what were ideas and beliefs on which they were based? 
  • How do current grading practices thwart effective teaching and learning; convey misleading and inaccurate motivation; demotivate students; and undermine our equity work, perpetuating the very disparities we seek to interrupt? 
  • What grading practices are more accurate and bias-resistant, and build students’ intrinsic motivation to learn? 
  • What are common challenges and effective strategies to successfully integrate these practices into our classrooms? 
  • What is action research, and how can it illuminate the results of trying these more equitable grading practices? What helpful kinds of qualitative and quantitative data can we collect without overburdening ourselves? 
  • How do equitable grading practices relate to other assessment modalities (narrative reports, portfolio assessments, Mastery Transcripts, etc.)?

Topics Covered

Participants will:
  • Understand the 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 associated equitable, accurate, bias-resistant, and motivational grading practices
  • Examine and anticipate the challenges and opportunities involved in implementing equitable grading in participants’ unique contexts
  • Understand the action research process for teacher-learning, and develop an action research plan and cycle of prototyping, evaluating, and refining the implementation of the new practices learned
  • Take part in four follow-up webinars throughout the 2022-2023 school year to share learning, data, and experiences with participating colleagues for feedback, ideas, and support
  • Receive discipline-specific group coaching sessions during the 2022-2023 school year


While many teachers have autonomy over their grading practices, grades—and students’ and families’ experience with them—do not exist in a vacuum. Moreover, administrators need a clear understanding of how teachers grade to support faculty as well as students. Consequently, Equity Design Lab designers recommend that participants register in teams (two or more) to help ensure greater perspective and on-site support. We also ask participants to identify an administrator to serve as a thought partner during the lab and throughout the year.

Within this context, the EDL is a robust professional development experience for:

  • Teachers
  • Instructional coaches
  • Curriculum directors
  • Instructional support staff
  • Global education specialists
  • Diversity directors and educators
  • Academic deans
  • Other faculty from NAIS member and subscriber schools

Registration Information 

Registration for 2022 NAIS Equity Design Lab: Grading for Equity has closed. 

Registration Pricing Early Bird Pricing
Standard Pricing
Member Price $1,415 $1,625
Nonmember Price* $2,025 $2,320

NAIS has reserved a block of rooms at the Kimpton: Aertson Hotel at the discounted rate of $199/night plus applicable taxes and fees. Click here to book your room at our discounted rate. 

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


A more detailed schedule is forthcoming. Programming will take place from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM each day, July 13-15.

2022-2023 Faculty

  • Joe Feldman, CEO, Crescendo Education Group
  • Mark Boswell, assistant head of upper school, Marin Country Day School (CA)
  • Shantha Smith, equity and excellence coordinator, Arlington Public Schools (VA)
  • Caroline 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 13) 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.