That is, suppose that a "Letter Grade" grading scheme has been set up for a course. Suppose that an assignment has been set up to display according to that grading scheme. The Gradebook then lets you enter grades by entering a letter, as well as entering by points or a percentage. If you enter a letter, Canvas assigns a point equivalent. How does it calculate that equivalent?

(I am asking because in testing, the calculation results don't seem reasonable to me. But I'd like to know what is really happening before I rush to judgement.)

James McLean,

Hopefully this will shed some light on how and why the number is obtained.

## Background

Some people write intervals as: A: 90-100, B: 80-90, C: 70-80, D: 60-70, and F: 0-60. In their mind, it is clear that once you get a 90%, you have the A. But it is ambiguous since 90% is technically in both the A and B grades. What people mean when they say that is this:

90 ≤ A ≤ 100

80 ≤ B < 90

70 ≤ C < 80

60 ≤ D < 70

0 ≤ F < 60

And that's the approach that Canvas takes. They only allow you to enter a single value and then use that same value for both the upper limit of one group and the lower limit of another.

That saves typing and it avoids duplication and overlapping intervals where someone might say 90 ≤ A ≤ 100 and 85 ≤ B ≤ 93. In general, that's a good deal. It's also necessary to avoid voids in the scheme like 90 ≤ A ≤ 100 and 80 ≤ B ≤ 85

However, where Canvas really makes it confusing is the way they represent the intervals. It is backwards and confusing for most Americans (I don't know about other cultures). I'm not going to try and sugar coat, justify, or explain why they do things the way they do things, except that it's similar to the way they do rubrics, which is also backwards and confusing, but at least had some semblance of common use until they went and started allowing rubric ranges.

Canvas lists the larger number first and then the smaller number.

When you see this:

Canvas means a C is anything from a 74 up to but not including a 77. The "< 77%" means "less than 77%".

I've taught math for a lot of years and I have never seen an interval written in this way on a consistent manner by someone who is trying to be understood. While it is technically valid to write 77 > C ≥ 74, everyone writes it 74 ≤ C < 77. I have seen lots of people say "74 to 77" but never "77 to 74" and most definitely never "less than 77 to 74." Yet that is what Canvas does and that is why people are confused.

## Answer to your question

Based on that, the upper limit of each interval is not actually part of the interval. In the 74 ≤ C < 77 example, it can't give a student a 77 when you type a C because a 77 is technically the next highest grade.

It subtracts a little from the upper limit. But sometimes it subtracts 1% and other times it subtracts 0.1% (1/10 of 1 percent). Whether it uses 1% or 0.1% depends on whether your range includes decimals.

In Canvas, the grading scheme I'm testing looks like this:

I flipped things around to make it easier to understand. The upper value in any group, except the first, is

notincluded in that interval. That is 90% ≤ A- < 94%. Another way of saying that is that a 94% is included with the A, but a 93.99% is included with the A-.Since the upper limit is not included in the interval, it cannot make the points worth the maximum amount, so it backs off some. That number could arguably be 0.01% since the grading scheme and gradebook allow for 2 decimal places, but it isn't.

Here's a table to illustrate some testing that I did. I made it worth 100 points for simplicity. The Recorded is the grade entered in Canvas when I typed the letter grade and the Offset is the amount Canvas backed off the maximum.

Notice the BP row? When I entered BP, it subtracted 0.1% from the 87.01% to get 86.91%. But 86.91% is a BM, not a BP, so it showed the letter grade as BM. If you want to enter a BP as a grade, you'll have to do it by the number 870.

You'll also need to enter a 0 to give a 0 with this grading scheme.

## Why this makes sense?

Okay, it doesn't really make sense mathematically, but it makes sense the way people use things.

There are two common usages for grading schemes.

## Implicit Grade Rounding (isn't really rounding)

The most common grading scheme at our school looks something like this (the numbers may vary, but the idea is the same).

Do you notice the problem there? The vast majority of people won't, which is why they enter their grading schemes with the values 90, 80, 70, and 60 into Canvas. They see 80 as the lowest B, not the highest C, and tend to overlook or not understand what Canvas is really doing.

What do you do if a student has an 89.6%That number isn't included in any of the intervals. Is the grade undefined? Hopefully not.You probably know what you would do. The problem is that not everyone would do the same thing. Some would say "89.6% rounds up to an A" and others would say "They didn't make the 90%, so they get a B".

Both of those are legitimate interpretations, which means that faculty should be more specific in their syllabus. Do not leave it ambiguous! I add a statement that uses the scale above but says that final scores will be rounded to the nearest integer.

When an instructor enters 90, 80, 70, and 60 into Canvas, they are entering the cutoffs and they really get this scheme:

90 ≤ A ≤ 100

80 ≤ B < 90

70 ≤ C < 80

60 ≤ D < 70

0 ≤ F < 60

The unfortunate thing is that for those who want to round the final grade and count that 89.6% as an A, this is the wrong way to put it into Canvas and they don't realize it. An instructor using this scheme will end up awarding a "B" to the student who has an 89.6%. That's because 90 ≤ A ≤ 100 and 80 ≤ B < 90, and 89.6 falls into the B range.If you do not want to do any rounding at the end of the semester, then you should use the integer based scheme.

## Explicit Rounding

Let's say that you want to round your grades, so that an 89.6% is really an A. In that case, you need to set the cutoff as 89.5 rather than 90.

When you do this, then Canvas will round as the person intended to happen.

## Why subtract the different amounts?

If you followed everything up until this point, this will hopefully be simple.

If you're using a grading scheme that only has integers in it, then you're not going to want to have a grade show up in the gradebook with a decimal point.

If you type "B", then you're expecting that the highest "B" is an 89%, which is found by backing off 1%.

If you're using decimals in the your scheme, then the most common one is the 0.5 to provide rounding that I just mentioned in the "Explicit Rounding" section.

In this case, the highest "B" would be an 89.4%, which is obtained by backing off 0.1%

## But none of this is what I wanted

You're not alone. There are some who have argued that the median grade should be used rather than the highest grade. Instead of giving an 89 or an 89.4 for a "B", they want to give an 85. Here's a feature request from 2015 for that: LETTER GRADES should be assigned the MEDIAN percentage (instead of highest) . It's currently in "cold storage", which is where archived feature requests go so there's still a copy of it and no information is lost, but you'll need to join the group to read it. There is another feature request currently open for voting that would allow the instructor to pick which one they wanted to use: Grading Schema Range Calculations - Mostly for Letter Grades

Another feature request is to let a letter grade be a letter grade without assigning it a point value. Can't a letter grade just be a letter grade?

A final note. This hackish way of choosing how much to back off is contrary to other places where Canvas keeps 2 decimals in the gradebook. But the uproar from the masses who want to know why a B gets recorded as 89.99% is more massive than the "okay, I get it but it's arbitrary and doesn't work when you have two decimals in your grading scheme" wimper from the mathematicians. From Canvas' perspective, there are bigger issues to tackle that impact students and this can be worked around if you know how grading schemes work and if you don't like the way Canvas does it, you can always enter a number and not worry about the reverse lookup.