Grading for Equity Institute Speakers
Led by CEO & author of Grading for Equity, Joe Feldman, the Director of Facilitation, Dr. Shantha Smith, and Crescendo Education Group Facilitators.
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?
Meet the Facilitators
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 (crescendoedgroup.org), 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 (gradingforequity.org), 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 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!
Courtney Fenner is a career educator with 19 years of experience across a breadth of schools where her roles have included classroom teacher, grade team leader, and Director of Equity & Inclusion. She holds an MA in English Education from Brooklyn College, an MFA in Creative Writing from Virginia Commonwealth University, and a BA in Studies in Women & Gender from the University of Virginia.
She is the author of the book, Kollege Knowledge: A Grrrl’s Guide to Surviving the First Year, and was the 2013 Young Women’s Leadership Network’s Teacher of the Year.
Courtney first joined Crescendo Education Group as a remote equitable grading coach. She has used equitable grading practices in her classrooms and has seen firsthand success with her students’ skill-building and confidence. When not facilitating and coaching, you can find her making homemade ice cream by hand, eating her way through new cities, and saving home design inspiration posts on Instagram.
Jamie Carota has been teaching middle school science in the Bay area for the past 10 years. She earned her BA in Biological Sciences and teaching credentials from San Jose University.
She has been a science department head and a member of her district’s instructional leadership team, and she also developed a next-generation science standards curriculum, all with a focus on equitable grading and social/emotional learning.
Last year Jamie became an equitable grading coach for Crescendo Education Group, supporting teachers all over the country, and has now transitioned into a full-time workshop facilitator. She has two young children and enjoys spending time at Lake Tahoe, gardening, and reading.
Nikole Joshi holds a B.A. from Radford University in Middle School Education as well as an MAEd in Curriculum & Instruction from Virginia Tech, and she recently obtained her MEd in Education Leadership and Administration from George Mason University. Nikole served for 11 years in Arlington Public Schools in Arlington, VA, in various capacities. She joined the Gunston Middle School Community in 2011 as the second Middle School Montessori program teacher and worked to grow and develop authenticity within the program.
During the past several years in APS, Nikole worked with schools to transform their grading policies while supporting and coaching teachers in standards-based grading implementation. Nikole has experience teaching special education and holds an ESOL endorsement and a Secondary Montessori I-II credential.
Nikole worked part-time with Crescendo Education Group as an equitable grading coach for the 21-22 school year before joining the team full-time. She is passionate about this work and wants all teachers to understand the power of equitable grading. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia) area with her 8-year-old son, eating sushi, and traveling to new places.