Instructor Help: Using PowerSchool in Canvas

Document created by Erin Hallmark Administrator on Feb 2, 2016Last modified by communityteam on Aug 14, 2017
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This document helps instructors with frequently asked questions and troubleshooting tips when Canvas is integrated with PowerSchool.


Preparing Assignments in Canvas

How does PowerSchool work with Canvas assignment groups?

As an instructor, you should mirror your PowerTeacher grading categories in Canvas Assignment Groups to have cross-platform consistency. Canvas Assignments and Graded Discussions default to Homework, and Quizzes default to Quiz.


In PowerSchool version 9.1 or higher, Canvas will pass back assignments and grades into the same grading category that exists in PowerSchool. Assignment groups and grading categories are case sensitive. If an assignment group does not match a grading category, Canvas Assignments and Graded Discussions default to Homework, and Quizzes default to Quiz.


Assignment columns are created in PowerSchool once an instructor has graded the object and clicks the Post Grades button from the Canvas Gradebook.


If an assignment group in Canvas has the same grading category description in PowerSchool, Canvas will pass the assignment into the associated grading category in PowerSchool. The only exception is if a category in Canvas is named Assignment, Assignments, or Quizzes; these categories will not be matched as they are already associated with the default categories of Homework and Test, respectively.  If you have non-generic assignment groups in Canvas that do not have corresponding categories in PowerSchool, the assignments associated will also go into the Test category.  


How does Canvas choose which assignments are passed back to PowerSchool?

Canvas passes back any assignment, graded discussion, or quiz that includes a check mark in the Post to SIS option. This option determines what assignments are sent to PowerSchool. The Post to SIS option may already be selected for you; Canvas admins can enable an account-level setting that automatically enables all assignments, but you can still manually remove a check mark from any assignment that you do not want to pass back to PowerSchool.


Additionally, Canvas assignments are also subject to the following details:

  • Due dates are required to send an assignment to PowerSchool.
  • All assignment names must be unique or they cannot be identified by PowerSchool. If a Canvas assignment has the same name as already exists in PowerSchool, Canvas will not push data for that assignment to PowerSchool.
  • Canvas assignments assigned to individual students in a course or MasteryPaths via differentiated assignments do not post to PowerSchool. PowerSchool does not support this functionality. Assignments must be assigned for a specific section or for Everyone.
  • Assignment names cannot be longer than 30 characters.


For help see the following Canvas Guides lessons:


Assigning Grades in the Canvas Gradebook

Canvas will NOT receive any grade level information from PowerSchool. The Canvas Gradebook should be the source of all additions, changes, etc., that need to be altered in the PowerTeacher Gradebook. Following this best practice will allow a consistent data flow between systems and accurate data in both systems.


Please be aware of the following behaviors in the Gradebook:

  • If an assignment is scored with a decimal (e.g. 10.5), Canvas will pass the entire score to PowerTeacher, but the assignment column only displays the grade as a whole number. Opening the assignment detail in PowerTeacher shows the score with the decimal.
  • Canvas only passes back assignments in courses and/or sections that contain an SIS ID. If your course or section does not include an SIS ID in Course Settings, please contact your Canvas admin.
  • If an assignment is given more points than the total amount of points possible (e.g. 30 points out of 20), Canvas will assign the extra points as extra credit to the corresponding assignment submission in PowerSchool.
  • Attendance in the Gradebook is not passed back to PowerSchool.
  • The Learning Mastery Gradebook is not passed back to PowerSchool.
  • Canvas does not pass back any weighted assignment information. To weight assignments, you must log into PowerSchool and weight the assignments there.
  • Canvas passes back late designations for assignments.
  • Muted assignments are treated the same way as non-muted assignments. If you do not want to pass back a muted assignment, edit the assignment so the Post Grades to SIS checkbox is not selected.


Posting Grades

To send grades to PowerSchool, you must select the Post Grades button in the Gradebook. The button will not appear until you have selected the Post Grades to SIS checkbox for at least one assignment.


  • If an assignment with an identical name already exists in PowerSchool, then Canvas will not push any grades; the assignment information will not be duplicated.


For help see the following Canvas Guides lesson:


If you don't see the Post Grades button in the Gradebook, please confirm the following:

  • Make sure the Post Grades to SIS feature option is enabled in Course Settings

  • Make sure the course AND section has an SIS ID

  • Make sure at least one published assignment has the Post Grades to SIS checkbox selected


If all of the above is true, contact your Canvas admin.


Viewing Grades in PowerSchool

To view grades posted from Canvas, you must refresh PowerSchool and open the Gradebook.


  • Grade distribution is a one-way sync from Canvas to PowerSchool:
    • In PowerSchool, if you change the name of an assignment that was previously pushed from Canvas, the connection between PowerSchool and the original Canvas assignment will be preserved.
    • In PowerSchool, if you change a category name, the next time you pass back grades, PowerSchool will put assignments in the original category. If you want to create a new category in PowerSchool, you must create a new assignment group in Canvas—PowerSchool will always match the assignment groups in Canvas.
    • In PowerSchool, if you change a grade for an assignment that was previously pushed from Canvas, the grade will not be reflected in the Canvas Gradebook. The next time grades are pushed to PowerSchool, the grade will be overwritten with the existing grade in the Canvas Gradebook.
    • If you push a Canvas assignment to PowerSchool and later delete the assignment from Canvas, you have to manually delete the assignment from PowerSchool.


How do I sync grades from previous courses?

In order to pass grades to PowerSchool for previous courses, you will need to retroactively edit the assignments, quizzes, and/or graded discussions and select the Post Grades to SIS checkbox, then open the Gradebook and  click the Post Grades button.


Note: You may need to contact your main Canvas Admin to be able to make changes in courses where the term has already concluded.


How does changing an instructor's enrollment affect courses in PowerSchool?

When an instructor leaves an existing course, PowerSchool keeps track of the teacher's record and notifies Canvas accordingly. Teachers may leave a course for various reasons, such as if they leave the school for another position, a new teacher is hired, or a teacher is sick and needs to be replaced with a substitute for an indefinite period of time.


When a teacher is unenrolled from a course in PowerSchool, a deletion record is sent to Canvas with the teacher's courses and corresponding student enrollments. When a new teacher is assigned to the course, a new course record is sent to Canvas with new enrollments for the corresponding students. The new course enrollment, however, does not let the new teacher see any of the previous teacher's work, such as grades assigned to previous student submissions. To allow the new teacher to view all prior coursework, an admin needs to crosslist the new sections with the old teacher's courses.

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