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Roll Missing label in Gradebook back to Beta

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Roll Missing label in Gradebook back to Beta

This idea has been developed and deployed to Canvas

UPDATE FROM ERIN HALLMARK: Canvas Beta Release Notes (2017-09-25)

screenshot of pertinent release notes

My proposal is that the "Missing" label feature be put back into Beta so that the engineers and designers can consider what they are doing, and then do it PROPERLY, before they roll it out again.

After a long weekend spent in a long and ultimately useless dialogue with Canvas Support about the Missing label (details here), I am more convinced than I was before that this new feature (rolled out late in the summer) needs to be put back into Beta until the problems are fixed. Other people have documented problems and proposed fixes as follows:

Allow "Missing" label to be enabled/disabled 

Missing Label Placed Incorrectly/Submission on paper and online option 

No MISSING label for zero-point assignments  

Instructor override of missing submission badge 

Manually graded or "EX" assignments still show as missing 

There may be more; those are the five feature requests I know of related to the new Missing label. Rather than voting on how this mess can be fixed, I propose that we vote to roll it back into Beta IMMEDIATELY so that Canvas can take its time to find the best solutions. 

The problems people are having with this buggy feature are abundantly documented in those requests: the Missing label is being applied to assignments that are optional; the Missing label is being applied to assignments that students turn in IRL as opposed to online; the Missing label is being applied to assignments which are graded manually (i.e. my student forgets to do a quiz; I record it manually... it's still "missing").

Somewhere in all those feature requests is the account of a teacher whose students' parents were going to ground the students because of all the assignments the student had (supposedly) missed. I'll let her comment speak for me too; here it is:

Overall, the Missing message is creating more stress. There are literally students who say that their parents are threatening to ground them unless they "get the work in". This notation is literally causing harm and distress in families. It needs to be changed as soon as possible.


Comments from Instructure

For more information, please read through Canvas Production Release Notes (2017-10-07) 

Community Member

See also the comments here at this question asking how to disable the Missing label: 

Community Member

Please implement this! If nothing else, the label should go away after a grade is entered for the assignment.

Community Member

That is why I think it is a BUG: when graded assignments are still listed as missing that means the system is broken. There are other serious problems, but because that is clearly a bug, I hope they will roll this back, fix the bugs, and also have a more general discussion about what it means when Canvas intrudes on the Gradebook and puts messages there that we simply do not want.

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

Great idea laurakgibbs and  Thank You for combining these ideas. There is great potential for these labels and how they can help students get their work done.

Community Member

Thank you ! I only recently found your Idea documentation; if I had noticed that back in August, it would have forewarn me at least, but August was so hectic, and I missed it at the time. Argh!

Anyway, yes, I agree: there is always room to improve how we communicate with students about grading.

For me, though, I craft that message individually with my students; there is going to be no one-size-fits-all solution that is going to work for me. 

I know all instructors do not have the luxury to work with students individually, though, so what Canvas needs to do is step back and look at the WHOLE RANGE of ways that people want/need to communicate with students about grades, and to do so very carefully.

To have Canvas interfering with my communication with students re: grading is a disaster. Even if the red-ink labels were correct (they are not), I would still opt to hide them. Canvas is giving me help that is not helpful; I do not want it or need it. Red ink is a no-go in my Gradebook. 🙂

Community Member

I'm going to leave the same comment here that I've left everywhere else related to this, in case this is The One Feature Request Actually Read By Devs: just because a grade is entered does not mean that the assignment is no longer "missing".

In the most common case of this, lots of people enter zeroes for things that were not turned in, and would like those assignments flagged as "missing" even after they enter the zero.

Some people also use "balanced grading", where they put in a 30%, 50%, or some other non-zero value for missing assignments. (I don't use this, but some of the other teachers in my building do,  and I know there are schools where this is a school-wide policy.)

(I know I've been one of the biggest complainers/commenters on this whole thing, and the current implementation actually happens to work really well for how teachers in my particular school would like the missing label applied, since we pretty much insist that students submit assignments through Canvas and have relatively few "optional" assignments that should not be marked missing. I'd like to see the current implementation stay as a per-assignment option, but can see the chaos it is causing more widely so would also support having the feature yanked entirely for a re-work even if it meant we didn't have this feature available at all this term. Issue I will be having with this feature as the term goes on: will need ability to manually flag "on paper" assignments as Missing so parents don't get confused by the lack of a "Missing" label next to their kid's zero on a major test if the student does not show up to take one of their proctored exams. I label all of my optional assignments with an "Optional" prefix, so hopefully parents won't become upset if their child has some of those missing, but time will tell.)

Community Member
Community Team
Community Team

Hi, Laura,

As you've noticed throughout several places in the community, the missing label in Canvas has been something on the instructor side that has been requested to be managed better in the Gradebook for a long time. Fortunately that's a behavior that our product team has been made aware of and are working to improve. Most of the feature ideas that exist right now about the missing label (in addition to the five you have referenced above) relate to changes coming to Priority: Gradebook Enhancements and have all been tagged accordingly.

The change to the student Grades page was originally announced in Canvas Production Release Notes (2017-08-05)‌; we did not receive many comments related to the possibility of dual assignment designations. Instead what we heard mostly related to zero-point assignments being treated as extra credit, which is another behavior that can be managed coming soon in Gradebook Enhancements (and yes, there is a feature idea for this). However, we were lacking any specific feedback related to student reactions directly and how more assignments were currently being treated with the either/or mentality. Feedback is always important to us, which is why the release notes are always open to comments during the release cycle. But we know that Canvas moves fast and that you may miss updates in a release! It's happened before and it will probably happen again. Smiley Happy After the cycle has closed, we close the comments for relevancy, but our Canvas Community Feedback Guidelines try to help everyone know where to go to best resolve any outstanding concerns. That document usually results in one of two actions: submitting a feature idea (suggesting new or updated features) or submitting a support case (reporting contrary behavior for existing features).

Unfortunately Canvas has never included an option to have an assignment be submitted either online or on paper. The option makes sense and I can see how you would implement it for your use! However, if you're treating assignments as being optional, Canvas doesn't know. Canvas tries pretty hard to know what you would like it to do, but to Canvas, assignments need to be submitted either online by a student or designated as a no-submission type; assignment results for online assignments are updated in the Gradebook accordingly. Our Canvas Support team was trying their best to help you find a solution based on the existing behaviors in Canvas. Any behavior that points to a feature idea will not be successful through Canvas Support as they do not manage feature ideas and cannot influence product direction, though they are always willing to try and help you find a workaround to your end goal, even if the functionality you desire is not currently supported.

Only recently has the product team been made aware of these dual assignment distinctions via the community that are frustrating students. Our latest beta release notes (Canvas Beta Release Notes (2017-09-25)) indicate that our Gradebook team has removed the missing and late labels for students. Only SpeedGrader still shows the labels, which is the original behavior that existed before the labels were added for students in the August 5 release. So basically we've put everything back the way it was. However, the change made for the upcoming release only applies to the standard Gradebook (the changes noted in beta will apply to production environments on October 7). Anyone using the New Gradebook as part of the focus group will still have labels shown to students; if this is a concern for users of the New Gradebook, the New Gradebook can be turned off if necessary and switched back to the standard Gradebook.

We're glad that Gradebook Enhancements will ultimately bring you the features you can use to manage your assignments and Gradebook however you would like. If you haven't looked into Gradebook Enhancements, I'd encourage you to check it out! The option to manually update missing and late labels on a per-assignment basis will be available before the New Gradebook is made generally available to everyone (announced as early 2018). 


I'm sorry that you felt frustrated enough to create many posts and comments in various areas of the community. We create our process guidelines to help us help you—release notes and feature ideas are always the best places to let us know your feedback about a feature, as both of those places have feedback managed directly by members of the Community team, and the feedback is passed back directly to our product managers. But hopefully this upcoming change will alleviate your current concerns! We don't want you to be frustrated and want you to get the answers you are looking for. 

Best to you,


Community Member

Thank you for all the information, erinhallmark‌! I'm really glad for the discussions that this has surfaced, and I think it has raised a really important tension between features and feature documentation on the one hand and actual teaching practices, practices which are incredibly varied. That's why I will always vote for features that are as flexible as possible in order to accommodate all the practices out there which you will never be able to anticipate in advance.

I think it is especially dangerous when the Canvas software takes upon itself the role of communicating directly to students, leaving teachers out of the equation (and I mean equation both literally and metaphorically). As this incident has shown, extreme caution is required. Canvas is a tool I am glad to use for administrative convenience, but I would never trust Canvas to handle communication with my students. That's because Canvas will NEVER have all the information it would need in order to know, student by student, moment by moment, what communication is best.

So, I hope as we move on out from here there will be some in-depth discussion about what it means to use the Gradebook as a space for collecting data as opposed to using the Gradebook as a space for communicating with students.

I am in favor of more/better ways to use the Gradebook for data, but as a general principle I am going to object to Canvas hijacking the Gradebook to use to communicate directly to my students. As this misadventure shows, you just do not have the knowledge of what is going on classroom by classroom, student by student, to be able to automate communications with students using a one-size-fits-all algorithm. These status labels took the teacher out of the loop, taking away our ability to define the messages going out to the students. For me, that is a huge problem because it undermines the trust I work so hard to build with my students. As I explained in my first blog post about this problem, I knew something was wrong when the students started sending me unhappy emails about Gradebook messages that I knew absolutely nothing about, messages I had never and would never put in the Gradebook. And when my students are unhappy, I am unhappy.

But now I am glad (VERY GLAD) to have the feature suspended at least temporarily, and I also don't want the larger question of "whose Gradebook is it anyway" to get lost here. I think it was‌ who said something about Canvas overreach in one of the discussions about the status labels, and that's how I would describe it also: Canvas should not be communicating course progress messages to students that are beyond my control. If you create a default system that suits huge numbers of users, that's great, but those of us with atypical teaching practices need to be able to opt out of these intrusive communications.

Pinging for this larger discussion, and hoping there will be lots of opportunities for further discussions about grading, data, and feedback to take place here at the Community going forward.

And thank you again for this good news: I will be sharing it with my students in Tuesday's announcements! 🙂

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Community Team
Community Team
This idea has been developed and is On Canvas Beta How do I access the Canvas beta environment?

For more information, please read through the Canvas Beta Release Notes (2017-09-25) .