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Assign to everyone except selected students

Assign to everyone except selected students

There are some assignments that go out to the majority of my students except one or two per class. It would be great to be able to assign to "everyone" and then have a button to select which students are exempt from the assignment.
New Member

As an instructor, the ability to assign a quiz or assignment to a whole class with the exception of a few students would be very helpful. As far as I am aware, right now if you want to assign to the whole class except for one student, you would have to type in each individual name of the students in your class. Having this feature would greatly help in fulfilling accommodations. 

New Member

I'd like to have the option to block students from taking quizzes/exams remotely. Not every student, but those who are not attending.  Moderate a quiz/exam/assignment for certain students not to have access. 

New Member

It looks like for quite a few years, people have been asking Canvas to improve access for students with disabilities by giving teachers the ability to exclude students from an assignment that is not suitable for them (and then assigning a modified version only to specific students- a feature that does exist in Canvas).  I'm hoping that I'm missing something. It appears that the only way we can do this is by individually assigning it to everyone else, and clearly, for teachers with multiple classes and large numbers of students, this is inconceivable. Please prioritize adding this feature or lead me to guidance if it is (I hope) already available. 


New Member

I am surprised this is not an option already. I have two sections of students in my Canvas course.  One group are completely online students and the others are the face-to-face students.  I can assign different test by selecting one section vs another.    As students in my face-to-face section go into quarantine I can easily assign them the virtual quizzes and exams. However, I need to be able to exclude them from the in person quizzes and exams.  Otherwise, their gradebook looks like they have to do the assignment twice.  I know that I can go in and excuse them from the in-person quiz/test as a work around.  But, this seems like it would be an easy thing for the Canvas developers to add that would help immensely at this time.  Thank you for reading.  

New Member

I have 120 students in a class, and wish to exclude 1 student from accessing the quiz on canvas. It seems the only way to do this is to type in 119 student names? 

Suggestions for a work-around?

New Member

This would be really valuable, as we try to accommodate students more carefully in the stress of the pandemic. However, without it, might we at least be able to copy-paste names of students to assign them, rather than having to type every student in individually? That would avoid a lot of the hassle. Last week I discovered that I had missed one of my other students when assigning manually to everyone except my handful of kids who need special accommodations right now.

Community Champion


Here are a couple of suggestions. None is perfect, but you have to weigh it against the alternative of entering 119 students and possible missing some. 

Excuse the student

You can go into the gradebook and type EX and hit enter. This will become Excused in the gradebook. Do this for the student(s) you don't want to take an assignment.


Now the question is ... what does the student experience?

It still shows up on the student's To Do list ...


... but when they go to take it, they can't. 


There is no "Take the Quiz" button for them.

On the other hand, this is what each of the 119 students would see.


I tried to mitigate the issue by warning the student in the instructions, but that's probably going to confuse the 119 more than it helps the 1.

Excusing works the same way with other types of assignments. The students can see that there is an assignment, but they cannot submit anything.

The benefit of the excused assignment over the second proposal is that in the Gradebook, the excused grade will show up as an EX, so you could teach the students what that means.


Differentiated Assignments

If you're okay with a moderate level of hiding something from a student, then you can assign it to just that student using differentiated assignments (using more than one assign to boxes at the bottom of the assignment). Do not put a due date on it so it doesn't show up on their To Do list or calendar and put an "Available Until" date in the past so they cannot take it.


It won't show up on the To Do list, but if the student finds it under Assignments or Grades, then the student will not get a "Take the Quiz" button because the quiz is in the past. They will get a "This quiz was locked Feb 22 at 11:59 pm" message instead.

Notes about the first two situations

With either of these methods, adding instructions to the quiz or assignment itself about what is going on is probably not the best way to convey what is happening. However, some communication needs to happen with the students until they are clear on what is happening. For example, you could leave a submission comment that explains that they have been excused from this assignment, it will not count against them, and they can click the X on the To Do list to remove it.

That last part of course depends on the route you take. I would save that blurb somewhere and then copy/paste it in for each student who does not need to take the assignment.

This one is questionable whether it will help, but it would hide it from the student. It's a lot of overhead, but I mention it just in case someone can imagine a way to make it work. I have only used mastery paths a couple of times and it wasn't for this purpose, so if what I say is incorrect, I apologize ahead of time.

Let's say that the students are those who showed up in class are given one set of assignments and those who didn't show up were given a different set of assignments (similar to what @LDMathews was saying). You could have an assignment that decides what path students will take. Make sure that doesn't count towards the final grade. For all of those who are in class, give them one score and for those who are not in class, give them a different score. When you set up the mastery paths, add the proper assignments based on the scoring.

MasteryPath items need added to the modules page, and would want to make sure that students could not work on the assignment until the mastery path was determined. That could mean enforcing sequential progress through the module or making the "Available from" date late enough that you have enough time to assign a grade for the conditional assignment.

For more information about MasteryPaths, see the Modules section within the Canvas Instructor Guide.

This is a lot of work for one or two students who need excluded from an assignment and I'm not recommending it for that situation. If you were to use it for one or two students, then I would go into the gradebook and assign the grade for those students and then use the Set Default Grade to assign the rest of the class.

Overall, it seems like Excused might be the best approach to take.

Community Participant

how in the world is this still not available?  I have been yelling into the void since 2014.

New Member

A great option to add to assignments would be if we can exclude students from the assignments. Right now, we can assign to all or individuals. 

Excluding students would make it way easier.

New Member

 (I think this may solve the issue we have with trying to differentiate for OCS.  I believe this will allow it to still sync with PS??  but instead of us typing in 22 names every time just to keep 3 OCS kids from seeing it, then we can simply select "everyone" but then deselect our 3 OCS kids.  For our OCS assignment, we can still just assign to those 3 kids.  It isn't perfect but it is better than what we currently have without having to set up a new section in PS.) -If they suggest using Groups that isn't good because it allows students to share files, etc. which we don't want!  Ideally, I would like to be able to subdivide my class for assignments the way we were trying to do under Sections, but if that isn't possible, then I think this is a good compromise.

Community Champion

Glad I found this thread I about posted a question about the same topic - I was not having any luck searching the question base and this thread came up from somewhere.

I would really like to see the addition of excluding a student from an assignment.  Although James does have a good list of work around information that I can use.  I would just prefer a built in solution.


Community Participant

I have 2 sections of my class. And therefore a different version of the final exam for each section. However, due to issues with student schedules, a few students are going to take the exam with the other section, instead of with their own section. So yes I can assign them along with the other section at the other section's date and time, but I want to remove them from their own section--both for their convenience so they aren't freaked out by seeing 2 final exams on their schedule, but also for test security. Looks like the idea to remove a student from a section has been around for about 6 years now, so is it too much to suggest that it be implemented? (This, BTW, is not a Canvas quiz. I'd like it to be, but this test involves solving math problems and showing work; so I had to create it as an assignment rather than a quiz, because my students will be uploading their work. File upload questions on canvas quizzes are a joke; I want to use speedgrader and file upload questions are not supported by speedgrader.) I may try using one of James' workarounds. 

Community Champion


I deliver my math finals as a Canvas quiz that contains one question -- a text-only question that links to a PDF that contains their final. I go ahead and set the timer for the quiz and tell students to use it as a reminder of how much time they have left, but also to say "Alexa, set a timer for 110 minutes" (an amount just short of the time they have to complete and submit the exam).

Then there is a separate non-quiz assignment that has a file submission restricted to PDF (the format their scanned work must be in). Then I get to use SpeedGrader to mark up the document. I also have a rubric criteria for each question to make the grading easier.

There is no direct link between the quiz and the submission, so there is nothing other than the notion that there will be penalties if they go over the time limit and so it is on them to keep track of their time.

As for removing students from their own section, you can excuse them and they won't be able to submit. However, if the exam is available as part of the directions, then you have may have issues. What you could do in this case is assign it to the entire section and then make a differentiated assignment for just the students who are to be excluded. For the excluded students, make it so the that the exam isn't available by setting the available from and available until to the same value (not the end of the day as that will actually give them a 59 second period). Don't put in a due date for the excluded students to keep it off their To Do list (that alone will keep many student from finding it), and be sure to excuse them in the gradebook.

And I agree that's complicated.

For my statistics final, I have 4 different versions that I randomly assigned to students by name rather than by section. Of course, I have 30 students, so it doesn't take that long. Because the students are only assigned one of the exams, they don't see the others. The downside to this is that it doesn't appear to have a due date when the instructor looks at it anywhere other than on the individual assignment page. This is because it's not assigned to everyone, it only has overrides.

New Member

Currently, under quizzes options, you can assign quizzes to individual students, it takes a long for large classes to assign quizzes individually to exclude a student or two. I suggest including a check box under moderate this quiz (Can be placed under attempts) to exclude the student from the quiz, Following is a suggested screenshot for classic quizzes which can be done also for  new quizzes 


New Member


New Member

I am an instructor in canvas. When assigning assignments, I am able to create groups of students to assign. However sometimes, I would like to assign to all students expect a few. I would love a feature that allows us to assign to everyone, then be able to type in names of students we do not want to receive an assignment.

As a special education teacher, I assign the same assignment at different difficultly levels. This would speed up the process and limit the student from seeing multiple copies of the assignment. 

Thank you!

New Member

I have a situation where I have to duplicate a quiz/assignment that needs to be pointed to only 1 student, but that student is still a part of the version that goes to everyone. My classes typically have anywhere from 200-600 students, so removing that one student from the "everyone" section is impossible. it would help tremendously to be able to locate that 1 person in the "everyone" version and click a button the excludes them from the grouping. This option to allow to isolate a small group of users from everyone really would make a big difference in making sure that the right assignment/quiz is seen by the right studnent

Community Participant

Annual post asking why this is not a thing yet

Community Participant

Yes - I think I'll join in an annual post asking why this has not yet been addressed. 


New Member

Yes, please please add an exempt option like google classroom does - you can select all and then DESELECT specific students.  There are cases when students are absent for an exam and I do not want them to get to see the test. This option would save teachers so much time and trouble.