NAIS Online Equity Design Lab: Grading for Equity

Registration for the 2021-22 NAIS Online Equity Design Lab (EDL) is now full.

NAIS Online Equity Design Lab: Grading for Equity
July 28-30, 2021; online

The NAIS Online Equity Design Lab (EDL) is a leadership and professional development experience that encourages participant use and sharing of 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 our grading?

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, to lead the 2021 EDL. 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:

  • Why is improving grading so 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 are grading practices that are more accurate, 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 action research illuminate the results of trying these more equitable grading practices? What are helpful kinds of qualitative and quantitative data to collect that do not overburden ourselves? 
  • How do equitable grading practices relate to other assessment modalities (narrative reports, portfolio assessments, Mastery Transcripts, etc.).
Participants will:
  • Understand the history of our current approaches to grading, and recognize the ways in which our continued use of those practices undermine equity and restrict how we want our students to experience learning and how we want to teach.
  • Learn equitable grading practices that are more accurate, bias-resistant, and motivational. And envision the challenges and opportunities of implementing the practices into our classrooms and contexts.
  • Reflect on previous experiences and beliefs with grading, and find connections and disconnections between those experiences and more equitable grading practices.
  • Understand the action research process for teacher-learning, and develop an action research plan to begin a cycle of prototyping, evaluating, and refining the implementation of equitable grading practices.
  • Participate in four follow-up webinars throughout the 2021-2022 school year to share learning, data and experiences with participating colleagues for feedback, ideas, and support.
  • Receive four, discipline-specific group coaching sessions during the 2021-2022 school year.
  • Upon completion of the program, participants will be provided a certificate of attendance for this institute.


Teachers (any subject at any grade level), instructional coaches, curriculum directors, instructional support staff, global education specialists, diversity directors and educators, academic deans, and other administrators from NAIS member and subscriber schools are welcome to attend.

Registration Information 

Registration for 2021-22 NAIS Online EDL is now full. 

Registration Pricing Early Bird Pricing
Standard Pricing
Member Price $1,375 $1,575
Nonmember Price* $1,965 $2,250

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


There will be a online three-day institute from July 28-30, 2021. Participants should block those days on their calendar to fully participate. 

Cancellation Policy

Cancellations received up to 10 business days (July 14) prior to the start date of the program will be fully refunded, less a $75 administration fee. Cancellations received less than 10 business days prior to the program will not be refunded. 

Contact Information

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