Happy African American student celebrating while receiving exam results from her professor in the classroom

Spring 2024 Teaching Effectiveness Institute

Grading for Equity: What is it and Why Does it Matter?

Thursday, January 11, 2024
9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

by Dr. Shantha Smith and CITL staff


Grading practices often cause stress for instructors and students, likely unintentionally and without critically examining the reasons behind them. Do your grading practices support or hinder students’ learning? Are your grading practices fair and equitable?

In this Institute based on the book Grading for Equity: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How It Can Transform Schools and Classrooms Second Edition, Dr. Shantha Smith will lead an interactive discussion on how our continued use of traditional grading practices can undermine effective teaching and learning, raise stress, and perpetuate student achievement disparities. Dr. Smith will introduce the equitable grading framework and its three pillars of accuracy, bias-resistance, and motivation. We will discuss several paradigm-shifting practices you can use to make your grading more equitable, including: using recent performance instead of averaging performance over time; growth mindset; lifting the veil; grading for learning, not control; and others. 


For over 20 years, Dr. Shantha Smith has served as an advocate for students of color to reimagine schools and universities that support all learners. She leads workshops on equitable grading, provides coaching to leaders and teachers, and develops curriculum. Most recently, Dr. Smith 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.

Dr. Smith holds a B.A. in Special Education from Virginia State University, a Masters of Education from Trinity College in Curriculum and Instruction, and a Ph.D. in Special Education/Special Education Leadership from George Mason University. In addition to changing the world one educator at a time, she also enjoys traveling the world and is a Peloton enthusiast!

portrait of Shantha Smith
Dr. Shantha Smith

Registration Information

The Institute is open to all NIU faculty (including tenured / tenure-track, clinical, research, visiting, and instructional faculty), SPS, and Civil Service staff. Please register by the deadline so that we can ensure you have access to the technology used for the virtual Institute.

Registration Deadline: Monday, January 8, 2024.

After you register, if you are unable to attend, please cancel your registration by Wednesday, January 10, 2024 at citl.niu.edu/myprograms.

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions? View answers to commonly asked questions below.

Who may attend the Teaching Effectiveness Institute?
The Institute is open to NIU faculty (including tenured / tenure-track, clinical, research, visiting, and instructional faculty), SPS, and Civil Service staff. Note that "instructional faculty" is the official term for "instructors". 
Who is the Teaching Effectiveness Institute designed for?
The Teaching Effectiveness Institute is typically offered every fall and spring. We invite presenters who are well-known for their expertise and experience in higher education teaching. The Institute is geared toward those who are new to teaching as well as experienced faculty wanting to learn about new and exciting teaching topics.
Will the institute be held in-person or virtually?
The Spring 2024 Teaching Institute will be delivered virtually via Zoom. While we love getting together in person, the unpredictable weather in January makes it challenging for speakers to travel and for participants to attend.
What will I need to be able to participate in the institute?

You will need a computer with speakers or headphones or a smartphone (Android or iOS). You will need a webcam or microphone to share your audio or video with other participants, but this is not required. There is a text chat for discussion if you do not have a microphone available. You will also need a reliable Internet connection.

The institute will take place via Zoom, so it would be helpful to have Zoom installed on your computer prior to the institute.

Is there a fee for attending the Teaching Effectiveness Institute?
There is no fee for attending the Teaching Effectiveness Institute; the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning offers the institute free of charge. However, it is expensive to provide the Institute, not to mention the time our staff devotes to planning and executing the program. The center does not receive student fees or grants to fund the Teaching Effectiveness Institute and other programs. Therefore, we would appreciate that you attend as much of the Institute as possible. If, after you register, you know that you will be unable to attend, please cancel by the deadline so that those on the waiting list can be given the opportunity to register and/or program expenses can be reduced.

Contact Us

Center for Innovative
Teaching and Learning

Phone: 815-753-0595
Email: citl@niu.edu

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