Quin Swallow

PowerSchool Grade Passback Guidelines

Blog Post created by Quin Swallow Employee on Oct 20, 2016

This is provided as a quick reference regarding common Canvas to PowerSchool grade pass back matters. For a comprehensive documentation on grade pass back, please see Canvas and PowerSchool.


Requirements for Successful Pass Back

  1. Your Assignment or Quiz CANNOT have a name longer than 30 characters.
  2. The Assignment or Quiz MUST be assigned to the entire course or section (cannot be assigned to individual students).
  3. Your Assignment or Quiz MUST have a due date.
    • That due date MUST be the same for everyone, if assigned to everyone.
    • The due date CAN differ if assigned to different sections (entire sections only). 
    • The due date CAN be extended for some students ONLY if the assignment is assigned to everyone.
    • The due date CAN NOT be different for each student or groups of students.
  4. All Students MUST have SIS ID’s in Canvas for grades to post for the students.
  5. The Course and Section MUST have PowerSchool generated SIS ID's to post
  6. You MUST check the box in the assignment/quiz that allows the score to be passed back to the Gradebook. This setting can also be toggled with the grade pass back icon in the Assignments list.


Pass Back Best Practices

  1. Read, understand and observe pass back requirements (see above).
  2. Minimize the frequency of score syncing. Each sync transmits scores from across the entire course gradebook, even when you want to update one student's score in one assignment in PowerSchool. Syncing after every individual score update, or even a few times a day, places a heavy load on the system and increases wait time for everyone. Instead, sync grades with PowerSchool periodically. Some teachers sync once weekly ... a wise practice. Always avoid pressing the sync button multiple times in succession.
  3. Set expectations with students and parents. They will appreciate knowing where your 'official' grades appear, and when scores are updated in PowerSchool.
  4. Provide details ... as many as possible ... when reporting problems. We can better identify and resolve your issues if you can provide us with:
    • specific course and assignment URLs where you have confirmed a problem exists
    • names of (and URLs for) affected, individuals if the problem is isolated to just a few users
    • screenshots of results, particularly error alerts
    • a list of steps that were taken leading-up to the problem
  5. Create and escalate cases to Canvas Support after you have verified that all assignment requirements have been met, and an adequate period has been allowed for system lag time (up to a few hours). Local Canvas admins can also notify their CSM so they are aware of the issue, but Canvas Support is able to track multiple incidents globally, tie them together, and send issues up to engineering if needed.



PowerSchool Questions and Answers


How do grades move from Canvas to PowerSchool?

Canvas-PowerSchool grade passback copies the following data from Canvas to the PowerSchool grade database:

  • Assignment name
  • Assignment score
  • Assignment group name

After grade pass back is enabled by an account (district) administrator, this data feed occurs whenever a course instructor clicks on “Post grades” in the Canvas Gradebook … but only for those assignments where grade pass back has been enabled (in the “Edit” view).

How often are grades moved from Canvas to Powerschool?

Scores are updated from Canvas to PowerSchool when (and only when) a course instructor clicks on “Post grades” in the Canvas Gradebook. There are no automatic, periodic transmissions of scores from Canvas to PowerSchool. Even if scores are added or modified in Canvas, this will not be reflected in PowerSchool unless and until the instructor clicks on “Post Grades,” and scores will only transfer from assignments for which grade pass back is currently enabled.


Are scores updated immediately in PowerSchool after a sync?

No ... there is a delay while PowerSchool processes the incoming score data. The wait time can range from minutes to hours, depending on pass back traffic. For this reason, we recommend that teachers not make a habit of syncing grades after every update. Syncing grades periodically is best, such as once per day, or even weekly, rather than syncing score updates as they happen. We realize that immediate score updates are preferable, but this is not technically available at this time. Setting expectations with students and parents about when PowerSchool scores will be posted / updated will help.


Can you limit which assignments go from Canvas to Powerschool?

Yes. This is done with a checkbox in the assignment’s “Edit” screen, using the “Post Grades to SIS” checkbox. If the box is checked, scores for that assignment will be set to transfer to PowerSchool. If it is not, scores for that assignment will not be passed to PowerSchool and will be kept in Canvas only.

Is there an "undo" option after you push grades from Canvas to Powerschool?

Not as described. However: Once scores arrive PowerSchool, they can be modified by future posts of scores from Canvas, and they can be deleted through PowerSchool Gradebook. Entire assignment records in Canvas and PowerSchool can only be deleted in those individual systems respectively. Deleting an assignment in Canvas will not delete it in PowerSchool, and vice-versa.


If I delete a previously-synced assignment in PowerSchool, will it re-appear on a following sync from Canvas?

Yes, it should. For that reason, if you do not want a synced-then-deleted assignment to re-appear in PowerSchool, you should disable PowerSchool sync for that assignment in Canvas, or delete it in Canvas.


How do assignment groups in Canvas translate to assignment categories in PowerSchool, and how is group weighting handled?

PowerSchool will align an incoming assignment's category name to its Canvas group name, as long as the names have an exact spelling, spacing and case match.*  The teacher must configure PowerSchool category names to match Canvas assignment group names exactly, or PowerSchool will not recognize and sort assignments as desired. Here is how it works:

  • When PowerSchool receives an assignment with a Canvas group name that matches a PowerSchool category name exactly, PowerSchool will 'file' the assignment in that category.
  • When PowerSchool receives an assignment with a Canvas group name that is not recognized, it will file the assignment in the 'Homework' category. (Note: Assignments in a Canvas group named 'Assignments' will also be filed in the 'Homework' category in PowerSchool, even if an 'Assignments' category is created in PowerSchool.)
  • When PowerSchool receives a set of quiz scores, that set of scores will always be filed under the PowerSchool 'Quizzes' category.
  • After arriving in PowerSchool, an assignment or quiz (with its set of scores) can be re-aligned to a new assignment category in PowerSchool, if desired. On subsequent grade syncs, the new category designation in PowerSchool will be retained, even if Canvas re-submits score data with the previous assignment group name.


Sample cases:

Canvas assignment typeCanvas assignment groupDefined PowerSchool assignment category

Resulting PowerSchool Assignment Category

(Results that might not be expected / desired are in red)

Assignment"Writing journal""Writing journal" (exact match)Writing journal
Assignment"Writing Journal""Writing journal" (case mismatch)Homework
Assignment"Writing Journal ""Writing Journal" (spacing mismatch)Homework
(default group in Canvas)
"Assignments" (exact match)Homework
(Yes, "Assignments" will always arrive in "Homework," even if an "Assignments" category is created in PowerSchool. To avoid "Homework" designation in PowerSchool, use another term or abbreviation.)
Quiz"Practice Quizzes""Practice QuizzesPractice Quizzes


(default group in Canvas)



What happens if I re-name a synced assignment in PowerSchool, or change its category, after a sync?

PowerSchool maintains a link to the originating Canvas assignment with an unseen ID code. You can rename the assignment in PowerSchool and even move it to a new assignment category- PowerSchool will retain those changes, yet continue to accept score updates from Canvas. (We advise doing this cautiously, as mismatched assignment names or groups / categories can cause confusion for students and parents.)


Where can instructors and Canvas admins go for more information on PowerSchool Grade Passback?

To thoroughly understand how Canvas and PowerSchool work together, please review  Canvas and PowerSchool. For official and complete documentation on this and other Canvas topics, please visit Canvas Community at community.canvaslms.com.