Allow 'Treat ungraded as 0' in New Gradebook

It would be very useful to be able to use the 'Treat ungraded as 0' feature of the current Gradebook in the New Gradebook, especially once the New Gradebook becomes the default in January 2020. I understand that not having this option seems to be by design, however there are use cases relevant to our tertiary institution that I would like to outline to see if they gather support among the Canvas Community. Please feel free to add your own use cases in the comments if this is relevant to you as well.


Our teaching staff use the Total column in the Gradebook to view how well a student is doing overall in their unit attempt. Not having the 'Treat ungraded as 0' feature in the future will mean that:


1. At the start of a teaching period – if say, 2/5 assignments have been completed by students and graded – the Total column will display a grade that is the scaled-up version of where they are sitting, working on the assumption that the other assignments are to be ignored. It would be possible for someone to achieve 100% in both completed assessments, and the Total column would then display a score of 100%. This is not an accurate reflection of where the student is at in terms of their overall completion of the unit and means the instructor has to do manual work, or ensure they set up assignment groups in particular ways, to try and figure out an accurate representation of student progress.


2. At the end of a teaching period – once all assignments have been completed by students and graded – the Total column will display a scaled-up grade for any students who have not completed any assignments or are missing grades. For these students, in reality, their non-submission is equivalent to a score of 0 – however in the New Gradebook, the Total column will not reflect this. This makes it difficult for instructors to review their cohort's progress and standing once the teaching period is complete, before those grades are to be formally sent to the SIS for release.


The only suggestion I've seen so far to mitigate against these issues is to use a Missing Submission policy.

How do I apply a Missing Submission policy in the New Gradebook?


This is not an adequate solution in our case.


In the case of example 1 above: at early stages of semester, students won't actually have 'missing' submissions – those submissions will be due in the future. A Missing Submissions policy would not apply.


In the case of example 2 above: Missing Submission policies do not apply to No Submission or On Paper assignments, LTI assignments, or assignments that do not have due dates set. We also cannot force Missing Submission policies at the account level, or via API when each individual Canvas course is created, to ensure consistency across our institution for such a crucial display issue. This would mean that even if it were an acceptable solution in other regards (and as per example 1, it isn't quite there in this case), we would be asking all of our institution's instructors to apply the same Missing Submission policy, and ensure that the exceptions to the policy as above also had 0 grades implemented where students had not submitted work. Not only is there scope for error here across large institutions such as ours, but this seems a disproportionate amount of effort to ask instructors to go to simply so that they can see an accurate reflection of their student's total grades for the overall unit.


This is a crucial issue for us, as we need instructors to be able to see how their students are doing throughout, and at the end of semester – this information informs moderation, future assessment design, learning outcomes, and reporting to faculty.


Others have suggested that the Missing Submission policy feature be amended (‌), and while I agree that it could use further flexibility, in our above case it would not quite solve our problems. It would be a simpler solution to allow the new Gradebook to set 'Treat ungraded as 0' to on or off instead. I understand that the Gradebook CSV Export is still calculating the Unposted Final Grade anyway – so the 'Treat ungraded as 0' score is still there in the system, just not being displayed at the UI level.


This idea has been developed and deployed to Canvas

For more information, please read through the Canvas Release Notes (2021-02-20) - Canvas Community 

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

Thanks for sharing this idea,  @jeremy_stevens ‌. It's open for voting, and others sharing their use cases here will be a very valuable part of the conversation, so thank you as well for extending that invitation.

I can envision a different way that instructors could extrapolate a student's final grade based on hypothetical future grades—that is, if this idea were to be prioritized and implemented: 

Community Novice

This does seem like a useful idea for instructors. Being able to view how students compare against their peers is good for quickly interpreting the scope of a student's understanding. I proposed a similar idea for the student 'grades' page, and I would imagine the two features could be fused to create something very helpful.

Community Contributor

Thanks for sharing, Stefanie – that's a great feature idea and would help our instructors towards the end of a teaching period and during moderation activities. In this case though it wouldn't quite solve our issues above, as it'd be best if instructors could view in the Gradebook's grid matrix a total overall score for each student which indicates their progression towards a Pass (or higher) grade.

Community Contributor

Adding an additional thought here:

If 'Treat ungraded as 0' has been removed from the New Gradebook because it is confusing from a UI perspective, another option (and it would actually be preferable from our perspective) would be to leave it removed from the Instructor's view of the New Gradebook – but to instead allow Admins to force it on or off at the account/sub-account level.

This way it's no longer a user and browser-specific setting, but forced on or off for institutions as appropriate.

The unposted final grade column is still being calculated in the Gradebook export CSV, so the data is still there, it's just not able to be displayed in the UI. Forcing it on or off at the account level would allow Admins the flexibility of choosing which type of grade is displayed in the Total column.

Community Novice

Hi Jeremy, 

I saw this option in the new grade book under the individual grade book global settings view, it is the first checkbox option. I attached an image showing that page. I am not sure if that is what you were asking about but just wanted to mention it. Best, Oya

315984_treat ungraded as zero.jpeg

Community Explorer

Turning it on in Individual View makes no difference in the Gradebook. The setting doesn't stick.

Community Novice

That's good to know, thanks Rosie!

Community Explorer

Using the option to treat missing submissions as 0 should be used with caution; it is a destructive edit. The resulting zeroes persist even when the setting is reverted.

This is even more reason to support a simple "treat unmarked as 0" toggle.

Community Participant

We have had to do so many work arounds since we moved to the new Gradebook without this feature. It is an absolute must for us and saves us so much fiddling around. I wouldn't mind if it is an admin setting at the account level as our entire organisation wants it switched on.

Community Member

I definitely agree! Would make life so much easier for us!