Canvas - Total Grade Calculation with Missing Assignments

Any ungraded items can result in different final grades being presented to Teachers, Students, and/or the Student Information System (SIS), depending on the settings used by each individual. The only way to ensure grades are consistently displayed is to follow the best practices listed below.

How Canvas Calculates Total Grades

Below is a brief description of how grades may appear when a grade item is left blank.
  • Student View
    When a Student looks at their final grade, the blank item will not be included in the calculation, and the assignment counts neither for nor against their score appearing as if it has been Excused.  This means that if the blank item is meant to be a 0, the Student will see an artificially inflated grade.  A Student who notices this is able to use the “What-If” feature to see what their grade should actually be, this but requires the student to notice the discrepancy and take steps to check the difference.
  • Teacher View
    Typically, the Teacher view is the same as the Student view for the Total grade; however, there is a setting available only to Teachers that will show the Total grade as if 0’s had been entered.  From Instructure’s documentation we can see that “Treat Ungraded as 0 is a visual change and does not affect any grades”.  What this means, is that the Students’ views are unchanged, and they will still see the artificially inflated grade.
  • Student Information System (SIS) View
    If you choose not to utilize SIS Sync, the grade you manually enter into the SIS will be the grade the student receives.  If the grade you are seeing in Canvas is inaccurate for the reasons listed above, the SIS will reflect that inaccurate information after you hand enter it.

    If you choose to utilize SIS Sync, the process will treat blanks scores as 0.  This means that the Student view and the grade submitted via SIS Sync are different if you have any ungraded items in your gradebook.  If you intend for any items to be Excused you will need to mark them as such before starting the SIS Sync process.

Best Practices for Handling Missing Assignments

  • Set Default Grade to 0 on Assignments
    Zeros need to be entered regularly for students to see a true reflection of their grade.  The fastest way to do this is to use Set Default Grade for an item
  • Mark Excused Items
    In the case where a student will be Excused from an assignment, their grade should be marked as excused.  The fastest way to excuse a student from an assignment is by entering EX into the grade input field.

  • Late Policy - Automatically Apply Grade for Missing Submissions
    The Late Policies area can enable Canvas to enter some 0’s on the Teachers behalf.  The Late policy will only work with assignments that require a submission.  This means that any in-class assignments, attendance grades, on paper submissions, live presentations, etc will NOT have the 0 entered automatically, even with this setting turned on. See How do I apply a Missing Submission policy in the New Gradebook.

Verifying Total Grade

The only way to verify the Total Grade prior to running SIS Sync is by using the Export option.  The Export option will generate a spreadsheet which will contain a column for “Current Score” and “Final Score”. 

To generate the spreadsheet:
  1. Load the Grades area in your course.
  2. Click on Actions
  3. Select Export
If these do not match, then there is at least one Assignment that is not graded or Muted.

Common Issues

"Ungraded" icon still appearing on item with grade

If an instructor has updated an assignment after grading a batch of them, you may see that the ungraded icon appears over the top of the grades already entered. This resulted in the entered grades not counting towards or against their final score on the right side of the Grades area. This is easily identifiable, because when clicking on the “ungraded” icon in the Grades area, the entered grade will be visible. To confirm this grade the instructor has to:
  1. Open SpeedGrader
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the submission
  3. Click Update Scores
  4. Move to the next student, and repeat the steps for the entire class
If you have additional questions, please contact Canvas 24/7/365 Support.

Keywordstotal grade, final grade, grade calculation, entering zero, missing assignments, excusedDoc ID91483
OwnerAaron A.GroupUWSA DLE
Created2019-05-02 10:07:20Updated2021-10-27 14:17:07
SitesUW Green Bay, UW Parkside, UW Stout, UW System Administration DLE, UW-La Crosse
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