Admin FAQ: Canvas and PowerSchool

Canvas offers an integration with PowerSchool using OneRoster APIs. The APIs allow PowerSchool to share rostering data to Canvas and for Canvas to post grades back to PowerSchool.

How does PowerSchool work with Canvas?

The Canvas PowerSchool integration works two ways.

  • PowerSchool to Canvas Provisioning: When you make changes in PowerSchool (to users, courses, enrollments, etc.), those changes are reflected in Canvas after a nightly, one-way transfer from your SIS's OneRoster 1.1 API to Canvas.
  • Canvas to PowerSchool Grade Passback (GPB): When instructors make changes or updates to course assignments and student grades in Canvas, those changes are sent to your SIS using OneRoster 1.1 API. Learn about syncing grades from Canvas to PowerSchool.

Contact your Customer Success Manager who can work with you to install and enable the Instructure OneRoster plugin for your institution's PowerSchool integration.

What is required to implement the PowerSchool integration with Canvas and how long does it take?

Please follow these steps to implement the PowerSchool integration:

  1. Contact your CSM to set up a Data Mapping Phone Call with a Implementation Consultant.
  2. If you are using LDAP, SAML, or CAS authentication, make sure your PowerSchool usernames match your usernames in the respective authentication servers. If they do not match or you do not use third party authentication, schedule a meeting with your CSM and an Implementation Consultant for help setting this up.
  3. Verify that you are using Powerschool version 8.3 or higher.
  4. Verify that your Powerschool instance runs on a valid, publicly trusted SSL certificate (your PowerSchool url should contain https://). If you don’t have a valid SSL certificate, you must first obtain one.

New customers can be up and running in their test environment within a couple of days. Once implemented, it can take two to three weeks to validate the end-to-end process.

Existing customers take longer because old SIS ID’s need to be re-mapped to match the Powerschool SIS IDs. After you verify the data, Instructure begins the process of moving the data into production. Once implemented, it can take four to six weeks to validate the end-to-end process.

Note: Instructure does not validate the accuracy of your data. You must validate the accuracy of your data. Additionally, Instructure is unable to assist with PowerSchool updates or HTTPS/SSL certification. For assistance, please contact PowerSchool support.

What is the implementation process for the Canvas PowerSchool integration?

Once you contact your CSM to initiate the integration setup, a Canvas Implementation Consultant (IC) will lead you through the Canvas PowerSchool integration setup.  They will send you weekly updates about the status of your implementation.

The Canvas PowerSchool implementation occurs in three phases:

Phase 1 - Setup

  • Configure Canvas PowerSchool integration
  • Set integration configurations, including course naming conventions, username fields, and course structure

Phase 2 - Review Test Data

  • Sync PowerSchool data to Canvas test environment
  • Review synced data; if correct, approve sync to Production

Phase 3 - Data in Production

  • Sync PowerSchool data to Canvas production environment
  • Review PowerSchool data in Canvas

What PowerSchool data is synced to Canvas?

The following data syncs from PowerSchool into Canvas:

  • Users (including staff and student accounts; not including district-level staff)
  • Schools (accounts created by school)
  • Terms (synced to Canvas by school; not synced by district)
  • Courses (either one course per section or one course with many sections)
  • Sections
  • Enrollments

Note: Changes to the above data should be managed in PowerSchool. Changes to these PowerSchool fields are automatically synced to Canvas during the next sync. Any data added in Canvas subsequent to the PowerSchool integration are not synced to PowerSchool.

How frequently is data synced from PowerSchool to Canvas?

The API is usually configured to run once every night so that PowerSchool data is update in Canvas daily. However, this may be adjusted based on your institution's requirements.

How frequently are grades synced from Canvas to PowerSchool?

Canvas grades are synced to PowerSchool when an instructor manually syncs grades from the Canvas gradebook.

What information is included in a sync from Canvas to PowerSchool?

The following assignment information is synced to PowerSchool from Canvas:

  • Assignment group
  • Assignment name
  • Description
  • Due date
  • Extra credit points
  • Late assignment status
  • Points possible

What are the Canvas PowerSchool integration limitations?

The Canvas PowerSchool integration includes the following limitations:

  • PowerSchool does not support differentiated assignments, including MasteryPaths assignments.
  • PowerSchool does not support observer user account creation. If you configure self-registration in your account, parents and guardians can create their own Canvas account and observe students in their classes.
  • LDAP login IDs may affect the timing of the sync. Please make all processes known to your IC or CSM so they can properly ascertain the ideal sync intervals for your institution.

How does changing an instructor's enrollment affect courses in PowerSchool?

If an instructor is unenrolled from a course in PowerSchool, their enrollment status and their student's enrollment status is updated in Canvas. When a new instructor is enrolled in the course in PowerSchool, the new enrollment is synced to Canvas with new enrollments for the corresponding students. To allow the new instructor to view all prior coursework, you must crosslist the new sections with the previous teacher's courses. If sections are not cross-listed, the new instructor cannot view any of the previous instructor's work, including assigned grades and student submissions.