Option for missing assignments to get a zero if using external tool



There should be an option to select whether the missing/late policy applies to external tool assignments.


Problem scenario

An instructor using the New Gradebook sets the Missing Submission Policy to automatically give a zero grade for missing submissions after the due date.  A student doesn't submit an assignment which uses an external tool (LTI).  The assignment is not marked as missing because it uses an external tool, so the student thinks that their grade is higher than it is and that missing an assignment didn't adversely affect their grade.



The New Gradebook should have an option for the Missing Submission Policy to apply to all assignments consistently-- including external tool assignments.


Possible arguments against this idea:

  • Although a Support Engineer pointed out it would be problematic to force all external tools to use the missing submission policy because some external tools don't provide an immediate grade, adding an option for it eliminates this argument.
  • Although instructors can manually set the default score for an assignment, this is a very manual process especially for courses with frequent assignments and there is an unnecessary delay for students to have accurate Grades.


If an instructor goes out of their way to set the Missing Submission Policy to assign zeros for missing assignments, it's counter-intuitive that there's no way for it to apply to external tool assignments.  The instructor should have the option for the Missing Submission Policy to apply to all assignments consistently.

Community Champion

There's a wider-applicability feature idea which just opened for voting, and which seems to incorporate this need:

And, equally important, both of these ideas depend on the automated MISSING flag itself, which I agree needs an option to enable or disable it depending on a course's (or institution's) needs:

If you're interested in this idea, please consider voting on those two others. TIA!

Community Champion

I do hope that external tool assignments are included in the blanket request to have it cover all assignment types, even though it's not specifically mentioned in the description.  I am voting up on both of these just in case. Especially for new quizzes to be included.


Community Champion

R S and  @RobDitto , I just tested a "new quizzes" quiz with a Missing Submission policy. It did post the 0 scores as well as pink missing labels after the due date. So at least this one external tool does use the policy - hooray!  Having no other external tools available to me I can't test them. Does anyone have experience with LTIs and the missing submission policy?  I can't find any mention in Canvas updates about this change, but perhaps I missed it.

Community Champion

 @Nancy_Webb_CCSF , I'm very grateful to you for posting this finding. While not working perfectly yet per Canvas Current Issues, what's working now is a step forward. 

My continuing experience is that our older LTI tools -- ones which have no capability to pass a score back to the Canvas Gradebook -- also lack any flagging of MISSING submissions without manual intervention. As opportunities arise I'll take a closer look at this behavior in our passback-supporting tools.

Your comment gives me an idea for an implementation suggestion. Might Canvas suggest a format (possibly also a namespace?) for specific LTI Advantage Assignment & Grade Services (AGS) line items with the goal of helping tool providers send data to Canvas about submission status relative to Missing Submission policy? (Sharing with Canvas Developers in case this is already being worked on somewhere.)

Community Participant

I am upvoting this and for the other one too. However, it is not just for missing it is also for LATE settings. For example, I use an external tool, which I can choose when to have the grades released. I do this so I can spot check responses and make changes, before the students see their grades. When the grades import, which of course is AFTER the due date in Canvas, they are all marked LATE and the late policy I have selected is applied. I have to go in manually and click the NONE choice for each student. That is three clicks per student x 100+. It was not fun. If this can be added as a friendly amendment, to have the choice to not mark as LATE when importing from an external app, I would appreciate it.


Community Participant

We would like the missing submission policy to apply to quizzes as well. We have instructors that want 0s to be applied past the due date instead of having to manually input 0s. 

Community Explorer

@brent_scholar Thank you for posting about how you had to go and change each of the student submissions as "not late". This happened to me yesterday. Since I am new to canvas I assumed that I had done something wrong with the assignment. I used the Google LTI for this assignment. Was this a bad decision? Should I just limit myself to the "text entry" submissions on canvas for the missing and late grading policy to work well? See I have a lot of questions. 

But today I see your post and feel ah! It's not me being a novice that caused all my students to panic when they saw their assignment was late. Sorry.... don't want to rant.

What are some ways teachers have avoided this stuff? How can I ensure the Google Assignment LTI that I am using is the latest? Should I switch to another mode of assignments?

Honestly speaking, I am bit miffed with all these hiccups. There I go again.... OK I will stop!

Community Participant

Please apply the "missing" flag in a student's grade summary page for missing external tool assignments (like the new Google Assignments) as well.  For some reason, the "late" flag works, but not "missing".  This is hugely important for students to know what is really happening with their grade!


Thank you!

Community Participant

It seems like this should be easily implemented for submissions like Google Coursekit, where the gradebook already shows that a submission is received, even if it has not yet been graded.  The automatic "missing" label could easily be added to any assignment without a submission using only existing gradebook information. I can't understand why this hasn't been done, 

Community Participant

Most external tools (maybe all except "New Quizzes") do not automatically apply a "missing" label when the due date passes.  Right now, teachers have to click 3 times to apply the label for a single student on a single assignment which becomes extremely tedious with a large number of students and assignments.  This could be made MUCH easier by giving teacher an option for an assignment like "mark all ungraded as missing."  Making it automatic would be even better, but this half measure could still save thousands of clicks per teacher (especially teachers with a lot of students who use a lot of external tool assignments, like Google Coursekit)

Community Explorer

Late policies work only on assignments submitted directly on Canvas, but don't work on assignment scores synced via LMS external tools.

This seriously limits Canvas capability to manage courses with assignments linked through an LMS.

You should add that feature, but given how static Canvas developers have added needed features these past few years, I won't hold my breath for that.

Community Participant

Yes, Yes, Yes, this needs to be added so that teachers can have consistency in the gradebook. This is very frustrating for most teachers and LTI's are widely used. At the very least Canvas needs to add an option to apply a missing score status to all ungraded or unsubmitted assignments up under the three dots so teachers can do this if needed. That would at least help simplify the process. 

Community Member

Currently zeroes to go in automatically past a due date only for the Online Submission type. Have the zeroes also go in past the duet date for No Submission, On Paper and the External Tool because Online is not necessarily always the Submission Type used by teachers and not necessarily the most frequently used by teachers.

Community Champion

There are some other ideas out there similar to this one that may meet the need. One that comes to mind is Apply Missing Submission Policy to all Assignment Types. The Community managers may merge the ideas (there are others out there as well, so it may not be that one), because it is essentially a duplicate idea.

For what it's worth (very little), I feel this is a bad idea to implement.

I have an in-class activity (pre-COVID) that is due at 9 am, which is when class is going on. I want students to know about it ahead of time and that it's happening in class so the due date/time needs to be at 9 am, but I won't get a chance to enter the grade until later that day after class is over, but all of the students got a 0 because you want no submission to get the 0. If something comes up and I don't get to it that day, the student is sitting with a 0 for more than a day when they know the teacher told them that they got the points if they were there. So now I get to respond to students asking why they got a 0.

Same thing for on-paper assignments. I definitely won't have those graded by the due date, which is when students should turn them in to me.

Some instructors take even longer to grade things, especially major papers or exams. The student would be sitting there with a 0 thinking they failed the assignment, when it's just a delay in the grading.

Some external tools use automatic grade passback and others do not. Some tools that use grade passback do it as soon as the student completes the assignment others will push the grades when the instructor tells it to. Some date it with when the student performed the activity and others use the date the information is sent. That last part plays havoc with the late policy as well.

Essentially, Canvas has no information to go off of to know when a no-submission or on-paper assignment was turned in until the grade is entered. It has no reliable information that works with all external tools to know whether the assignment has been turned in. That means that any effort to automatically assign 0's leads to a poor student experience.

Universally setting 0's for all of those is bad because the student will have 0's for things they've done. It might be okay for some external tools if it were an option on a per-tool or per-assignment basis, but not automatically for all assignments. That was the gist of the Option for missing assignments to get a zero if using external tool idea conversation.

Right now, it's a little more work to go in and set the default grade for those external tools that will send a grade until a student actually does something, but it's doable.

Community Member

Having the ability to apply the "missing" tag to external tool assignments would greatly reduce a ton of tedious clicking.  Making it an option in the grade book settings or enabling teachers to change all unsubmitted assignments to "missing" using the assignments 3 dots would also greatly reduce the amount of time it takes to properly update the gradebook.  Right now I have to manually change all unsubmitted external tool assignments to "missing" everyday.  

It's easy to set the default grade for an assignment to 0, but without the "missing" tag, it won't show up on a student's to do list as overdue or missing. 

Community Champion


You might be able to speed things up using a script I wrote to remove missing and late labels. Although it was originally written to remove them, I think the functionality is there to add them and there was a discussion (read the comments) about making it work with external tools. It would involve removing some of the checks I have in there to make sure it's not an external tool.

You would still need to go in and run it once per assignment, but it would set the flags for all students for that one assignment rather than having to go in individually into each student's score.

Community Novice

The option to apply missing/zeros/late work to external tools would make using Canvas 100 times easier and provide quicker feedback for the students.

Community Member

Nothing new to add, just lending weight - this is a big deal.

Community Member

I can not express how important this is. Students, parents, counselors, and admin rely on the label "missing" when it comes to assignments. If a teacher doesn't manually go through and mark each assignment missing, the number of missing assignments a student has is inaccurate. Also, students and parents get confused as to which assignments students need to focus on in order to get caught up. 

In addition to teachers not having the time to click through each student, teachers may not even realize that some types of assignments get marked as missing and others don't.

Community Explorer

Agree! We just adopted Canvas 6-12 for our district and again want to stress what others are saying about how important this feature is. With external tools, it can indicate that something has been submitted and gives you the same icons as assignments with online submission types. 

In turn, it would be great if the Gradebook recognized submissions from External Tools and teachers could then automatically utilize the programming already built in to the late policy to automatically count the assignment as missing, and then change it to late once work has been submitted through the External Tool.