Grading for Equity Virtual Summer Institute 2024

What It Is, Why It Matters, and How It Can Transform Schools and Classrooms

When a teacher assigns a final grade, it is a high-stakes reporting of a student’s performance and has major implications for our students’ identity and sense of self, but also is used to make high-stakes decisions about them—course placement, extra-curricular eligibility, scholarships and financial aid, college admission, etc. Our grades are the most formalized expression of our professional judgment and expertise, yet unfortunately, and ironically, we teachers receive almost no education or training in how to grade.

The Grading for Equity Virtual Institute will synthesize education research and practical classroom-based experiences to address:

    • Why is improving grading so critical to ensuring both academic excellence and equity in classrooms?
    • What is the history behind our current grading practices? What are some beliefs and ideas on which current practices are based on?
    • How do current grading practices harm underserved students such as:
        • Amplify stress and perpetuate opportunity gaps?
        • Create misunderstanding of how grades are determined or how to improve grades
        • Emphasize points vs. mastery of learning
    • What grading practices are more accurate, bias-resistant, and motivational?
    • What are common challenges and effective approaches to successfully integrate into classrooms, schools, and districts?

What to Expect

Participants of this Institute will:

    • Understand the history of our current approaches to grading, and recognize the ways in which our continued use of those practices undermines equity, teaching, and learning
    • Learning about equitable grading practices that are more accurate, bias-resistant, and motivational
    • Envision the challenges of implementing more equitable grading practices into our classrooms
    • Reflect on previous experiences and beliefs with grading
    • Find connections and disconnections between prior grading experiences and more equitable grading practices
    • Envision ways to begin to use more equitable grading practices in our classrooms, schools, and districts

What this is NOT:

This is not a Train the Trainer workshop, but instead an opportunity for you to progress further on your own journey to understand and implement equitable grading. While you won’t be prepared to lead this work at your own site, you will become more fluent and confident explaining and discussing equitable grading with colleagues, caregivers, and students.


This remote event will blend online and offline experiences so that participants have time and space to learn, reflect, pause, and engage meaningfully with the content and colleagues. The 4-hour sessions each day will include online synchronous breakout groups and short presentations as well as offline readings, exercises, and videos. After an extended break, a 1-hour session is for assigned groups to work together to understand and apply content, and to prepare for the next day’s learning.


The Grading for Equity Institute includes approximately 15 hrs of professional development. Each participant will receive a Certificate of Completion and may apply for potential credit with their institution. We have also partnered with University of the Pacific to award graduate level professional development  credits for participation in the Institute. Please see their website for more information and the cost for credits.

Cancellation Policy

Cancellations must be received in writing by emailing Cancellations received up to 15 days prior to the start date of the program will be fully refunded, less a $75 administrative fee. Cancellations received less than 15 days prior to the start date will be refunded at 50%.

No refunds will be given for “no shows” or cancellations the same day of the event.

If the Grading for Equity Institute is canceled, all enrollees will have the opportunity to attend the rescheduled dates or receive a full refund.

Program Details




All sessions will take place virtually via Zoom.


9:00 am – 1:00 pm
Pacific Standard Time

10:00 am – 2:00 pm
Mountain Standard Time

11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Central Standard Time

12:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Eastern Standard Time


Early Bird Price

COST/per person

Regular Price
COST/per person

Group Pricing 
available for groups of 2 or more individuals.
Receive $50 off each ticket!

Program Agenda

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The Grading for Equity institute is led by Joe Feldman, CEO & author of Grading for Equity and Dr. Shantha Smith, Director of Facilitation and supported by the rest of the team from Crescendo Education Group.

Joe Feldman - CEO
Joe Feldman profile picture.

Joe has worked in education for over 20 years as a teacher, principal, and district administrator, and is the founder and CEO of Crescendo Education Group (, which since 2013 has supported K-12 schools, districts, and colleges/universities nationwide to improve grading and assessment practices. He leads the Equitable Grading Project (, has presented at numerous education conferences, and his writings have been published in Education Week, Kappan, Education Leadership, District Administrator, and Black Press USA. His book, Grading for Equity: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How It Can Transform Schools and Classrooms (Corwin) was published in 2018. Crescendo Education Group has partnered with the National Education Association as well as the American Federation of Teachers, National Association of Independent Schools, and Stanford University’s Challenge Success.

Joe earned his B.A. from Stanford University and a Master’s degree in Teaching and Curriculum from the Harvard School of Education, and is also the author of Teaching Without Bells: What We Can Learn from Powerful Practice in Small Schools (Paradigm, 2010). He lives in Oakland with his wife and two children.

Dr. Shantha Smith - Director of Facilitation
Dr. Shantha Smith profile picture.

Dr. Shantha Smith leads equitable grading workshops, provides coaching to leaders and teachers, develops curriculum, and supports talent development of our team. She was born and raised in Washington, D.C. She attended Virginia State University, where she received her BA in Special Education. Next, she obtained her Master’s of Education from Trinity College in Curriculum and Instruction, with a minor as a Reading Specialist. In 2015, She earned her PhD, in Special Education/Special Education Leadership from George Mason University.

Dr. Smith most recently was an instructional leader and Equity and Excellence Coordinator in Northern Virginia and the 2020 recipient of Virginia’s Mary Peake Award for Excellence in Education Equity. For over 20 years, she has served as an advocate for students of color to reimagine schools that support all learners. Her teaching and coaching experiences range from Pk-12. In addition to changing the world one educator at a time, she also enjoys traveling the world and is a Peloton enthusiast!

Program FAQs

When does registration close?
Registration closes on DATE. Space is limited and historically this event has sold out. We recommend completing your registration today. 

How do I pay by Purchase Order?
Select “Purchase Order” during the checkout process.

How do we register a group?
There is a group registration section when you register for the Institute. If you have any issues registering a group, please contact us at

Where should I make the Purchase Order out to?
Crescendo Education Group LLC
360 Grand Avenue,
Suite 71 Oakland, CA 94610

Where do I submit my completed Purchase Order?
Please email your completed Purchase Order to

When is the Purchase Order submission due by?
Purchase Orders should be submitted by DATE. The PO is considered a binding agreement to pay within 30 days of receipt of invoice.

I will need a phone number and email in order to add Crescendo Education Group as a vendor at my school, what can I use?
We will send an invoice to you directly which includes all of our information, including our W-9.

Where can I find Crescendo Education Group’s W-9 form?
You can find it here and we will attach it to the invoice.

Who can I contact for further billing instructions?
Please contact us at

What address will my book be sent to?
Your institute package will be sent to the shipping address you entered during registration.  To change your shipping address, please email All other materials will be provided virtually.

What if I registered as part of a group and didn’t provide my shipping address?
The person who registered the group provided a central address for the books to be shipped to. Please contact this individual to arrange to receive your book.

What will we learn at the Institute?
Day 1 is an exploration of our own, and our nation’s, history of grading, its impact on teaching and learning and how it undermines equity, and an introduction to the Grading for Equity framework and practices that support the Accuracy Pillar.

Day 2 builds on Day 1 and focuses on the Bias-Resistance Pillar and Motivation Pillars of the Grading for Equity framework.

Day 3 begins to integrate the three pillars and the equitable grading practices and consider how to implement these practices in our classrooms and schools.

Is this the right opportunity for a school, district, or organization who is looking to “train the trainer” and confirm internal capacity to lead this work in Fall 2024?
The Institute is designed to build capacity to build understanding of the “why” and “what” of equitable grading, and to begin to learn the “how”. For teachers, it leads to the question: “What will I try in my classroom next year to make my grading more equitable?”

For those who are responsible to lead this work, the Institute will help you consider possible ways to support others in their learning about equitable grading. By the end of this Institute, you are not (and should not) be expected, responsible, or even advised to be the “resident expert” and to train others to implement equitable grading. However, from this Institute, you will gain greater comfort and confidence with the purpose and principles of equitable grading and apply them in your classroom. 

I already read Grading for Equity and/or completed the Grading for Equity online course. How will this be different?
While we will incorporate many of the topics included in the online course, and addressed more comprehensively in the book, the Institute is designed to be an interactive learning experience that incorporates conversation, reflection, and exercises to deepen understanding of equitable grading practices and that allow for participants to engage with the work at different levels depending on their experiences and context.

It is also an opportunity to build connections with other educators across the country–in public and independent schools, in rural, urban, and suburban schools, in K-16 contexts, and serving a wide range of students and communities–all of whom are part of an impassioned group working to make grading more equitable that you get to join. Plus, for those attending as a team from your site, it provides a shared learning experience that supports future collaboration and coordination.

How do I log into the virtual event?

Attendees will gain access to the Zoom link a few days before the Institute. Please keep an eye on your email for this link and other important information. 

Does Crescendo Education Group offer scholarships or free institute access?
We are sorry to say that this year we are unable to distribute free access or scholarships. We appreciate the interest!

Who should I contact if I have additional questions?
We are happy to answer your questions. Please contact us at