Can anyone tell me how Power School works with Canvas?

Jump to solution
Community Participant

We are looking at different SIS systems that work well with Canvas.  We have heard that Power School works well.  I would like to know if you are using Power School and how it communicates with Canvas.  Are you using Clever for the connection or is there a direct connection?  Also, I would love some feed back about Power School and if you like this SIS.  What you see are pros and cons and how it works with Canvas.

Thank you for your input!


1 Solution
Community Champion

Hi  @noates ​.


Our K12 uses Grade Passback with our PowerSchool integration. We are considering Clever integration next year but so far this year when logging into Canvas students authenticate using their PowerSchool credentials, which is very nice! Once integrated into your Canvas instance with the help of your Instructure CSM Passback is easy to "turn on" using the checkbox in any Assignment Tool settings or using the Passback icon in the Assignments area of your class menu like in the screenshot at right. Turning on the Passback icon doesn't make everything happen though; this just flags the assignment as one Canvas should Passback to PowerSchool. To send updated grades to PowerSchool the teacher must click a new button that appears in the Canvas Grade book named "Post Grades." Once this button is


clicked (seen at left) Canvas looks for all Assignment tools that are flagged with that Passback icon. Only those Assignment tools selected for Passback will have their grades updated to PowerSchool with the Passback feature.


Canvas communicates with PowerSchool in different ways for us and at different times. First, for basic operations other than Passback, Canvas synchronizes classes and users with PowerSchool twice a day for us on the 12s; at noon and midnight the two systems talk. During this time PowerSchool communicates to Canvas any new classes that need to be created such as new sections of classes that need to begin after the school year starts for standardized test remediation. After 12noon or 12midnight, whichever follows the change made in PowerSchool, students, teachers and administrators will notice the new Canvas class is automatically created for them listed in their All Courses.  During this sync student enrollments/unenrollments in and out of PowerSchool classes. Continuing the example above, any students enrolled in these remediation classes by Guidance or Administration on PowerSchool will find they are automatically enrolled as a student user, too, likewise for teachers. If they are overseeing student performance growth in this remediation class they will be automatically added as the teacher user in the class during the synch. Again, our classes and user enrollments update on the 12s, but your Instructure CSM will help you set up PowerSchool-to-Canvas sync times to whatever you need if your team decides PowerSchool integration is right for your institution.

Second, Canvas talks to PowerSchool during the Passback process which can happen at any time during the day unrelated to the sync schedule. We have noticed that with Passback there is a bit of a delay from the time teachers "post grades" in their Canvas Grade book until the time it displays over in PowerSchool for the teacher to see. We aren't sure why or if this is related to the local computer caching the PowerSchool screen and not showing updated grades that were passed back or not, but within 30-45 minutes teacher have found that grades were passed back from Canvas to PowerSchool. One thing you can count on is that the grade Passback "direction" works in only ONE way: from Canvas to PowerSchool. In other words grades updated in PowerSchool will not transfer to Canvas.

With great Passback power comes great Passback responsibility.
If your institution decides to move forward with Passback be sure to ask your Instructure CSM about the guidelines for using Passback. These are things like

  • assignments set for Passback must have due dates
  • assignments set for Passback might have a character limit
  • assignments set for Passback need to be assigned to student Sections (although we have found they can be assigned to individual students)

and so on. Just ask your CSM for this information  🙂  We communicated these guidelines to our district's instructional coaches as they work with teachers in buildings, and we provided resources in our asynchronous Canvas training online course learning paths we created for our staff. As teachers spread the word about how useful Passback is and more and more teachers start using the Passback feature they can find these resources quickly in our training course, dig even deeper here in the Community, or they can always reach out to one of our instructional coaches for the personal touch, too.

Classes, classes, classes.
We found that with the PowerSchool integration teachers and students get a class for EVERYthing they're teaching in PowerSchool -- of course this makes sense to computers, but not always to humans using computers. For example, an elementary music teacher might teach the same music lesson content and share the same resources to all 5 of his third grade music classes. Canvas initially created 5 third grade classes with the respective students enrolled in each and the music teacher enrolled in each. That's a LOT of content sharing from one Canvas class to the other four to do on a regular basis whether the teacher is using Commons or not!  However, using a feature called Crosslisting allows teachers of multiple identical classes to bring those Sections of students learning the same thing into one shared, Canvas class space. Like Passback, Crosslisting was a new feature we hadn't explored before. If you're looking for a place to start learning more about Crosslisting Canvas class Sections feel free to start here. What's nice about this is that if you have Observers in your system they will see that their access mirrors that of the student whom they are overshadowing. Once you understand Crosslisting it's one of those things that just works exactly like you hope it will for your admin, student, observer and teacher users.  🙂

Hope this helps with some of your questions surrounding PowerSchool,Grade Passback, and its impact on your LMS users, Nancy.

View solution in original post