The Tyranny of the Percentage: Part 1

Last week, I wrote about how pleased I was that Canvas allowed me to have true blanks in the Canvas Gradebook so that my students do not see zeroes. They only see the assignments they have completed, and their total points accumulate assignment by assignment. Because there are no zeroes, the percentage is always 100%. And that’s just how I want things to be.

So… imagine my surprise this morning when I tried to display my students’ final grade in the Canvas Gradebook. The class is over this Friday at noon, and many students have the points they need to be done with the class. So, I’d like to have their final grade display in Canvas, in addition to their total points.

But as it turns out, this is impossible.


Because Canvas only supports percentage-based grading schemes. You know, the arbitrary absurdity that declares 90% and above to be an A. Or maybe 93% and above is an A, if you’re being “rigorous.” Or maybe 94% is an A. If you’re being really “rigorous” (yes, those are snark quotes).  Here is what I see when I try to add my grading scheme to the system:


That’s it: percentages. Only percentages.

I was thinking maybe I was just missing some obvious points-based menu, but when I asked the Canvas support team at my school, they could not think of any way for me to use my points-based grade scheme in Canvas. What they told me to do was to convert my points to percentages based on total points, but I cannot do that: my students choose what assignments to complete (or not), and their percentage is always 100% … which is why I liked having all those blanks in the Gradebook to begin with. I repeat: choices, not zeroes.

I’m still hoping I’m wrong (Canvas gurus, please enlighten me!), and I’ll take some more time tomorrow to research this (hence the “Part 1” in the title of this post). But this archived feature request seems to confirm the worst: Currently, you can only setup a Grading Scheme by setting the Ranges as percentages.


So, I hope that somehow I am wrong… but if I am not wrong, you can believe I will have a lot to say about this in Part 2! 🙂

Growth mindset cats break through the barriers.


Crossposted at OU Canvas Community.