Updated: PowerSchool now syncs course groups to Outlook

Updated March 13, 2020: Group names and addresses have updated to fix a bug with term enrollments not being processed correctly. Elective courses that meet for one semester now e-mail the correct group of students for that term. Click this link to see a complete list of all the groups in the system

Original Post: Teachers and staff want to quickly communicate with groups of students, teachers and parents. In the past, this has required you to look up those groups in PowerSchool and copy-paste the addresses into an e-mail. Now, we have a solution that syncs PowerSchool course groups into Outlook. This means you can look up and email groups of parents, students and teachers directly in Outlook.

Click this link to see a complete list of all the groups in the system (login required).

You can also use autocomplete to look them up – read on to find out how.

What groups can you look up?

Emailing Parents

  • A student’s mother or father in Outlook, i.e. “John MAO Junhao Father” or “John MAO Junhao Mother”
  • Parents of students in a section, i.e. “Parents of Students in AP Economics – B – Cooper”
  • Parents of students in a course, by teacher, i.e. “Parents of Students in AP Economics – Y1 – Cooper”
  • Parents of students in a course, regardless of teacher, i.e. “Parents of Students in AP Economics”

Emailing Students

  • Students in a section, i.e. “Students in AP Calculus AB – Redl – B – EmailGroup”

Emailing Teachers

  • All teachers of a student, i.e. “Teachers of John MAO Junhao”. Note that this emails all teachers of the student, including advisers and ASA instructors.
  • All teachers of a course, i.e. “Teachers of AP Economics”


Show me how

The video below demonstrates how to look up these PowerSchool groups in Outlook.

How can a student with two Es and a P have a P overall?

How can a student with three standards scores of E, E, and P end up with P as an overall grade? PowerSchool calculates grades based on the scores of the underlying assignments. See the PowerPoint below for an explanation, and use this grade calculator spreadsheet (download it to your computer before opening) to input a student’s individual assignment standard scores to see how this translates into overall standards scores and the overall course grade.

Action Required: New Office 365 Features

Over the summer changes to Office 365 have been made that require your action and/or attention.

Receiving Group/Team Messages

Don’t worry, you are receiving all staff emails. But for your department groups and other Office 365 teams, the following applies:

Microsoft updated the Outlook web interface over the summer. You need to find your groups in the left nav bar, click on each, and confirm that

  1. The Star is checked
  2. Settings > Follow in inbox / Receive all email and events is checked


If you don’t complete these two steps, group email will not be delivered to your inbox. They will instead only appear when you click on the group’s inbox.

Staff Portal Updated

Update your bookmarks! The Staff Portal was updated over the summer. The correct address is http://staff.ncpachina.org. Look in the “Instructor Resources” and “Extracurriculars” for most documents relevant to you. Thanks to Joe for beautifying and simplifying the site!

Your Outlook Calendar Now Syncs from PowerSchool

You’ll notice that your Outlook calendar now shows your classes, ASAs, advisories and study hall from PowerSchool.

We hope this makes it easier to schedule meetings across departments, as the Scheduling Assistant will now show correct free/busy times. A few caveats:

  • Currently, your calendar shows your PS classes two weeks in advance
  • If you’re a co-teacher, your events don’t yet sync over

Additional Parent Contact Information Available for Faculty in PowerTeacher

More parent contact information is now available in the PowerTeacher > sqlReports 5 > Student Demographics for Teachers report. Where previously there was only a “Guardian E-mail” field, which may have been the father or mother, there are now two additional columns for mother’s e-mail and father’s e-mail.

The registrar’s office requests that you e-mail both parents when contacting home. This will better inform parents and make them more likely to repond to/act upon your e-mails. Please contact Lucy Zhong, lzhong@ncpachina.org, with any questions.


How to Mail Merge a List of Incompletes with Word and Outlook 2016

Sending emails home about Incompletes or Not Yets doesn’t have to be a chore. Learn how you can mostly automate the process in less than ten minutes by watching the guide above (NCPA login required due to presence of student information).

Finding Student Info in the PowerSchool Admin Portal

This week we had a training session for PS Admin Portal users. Find the Quick Ref card here: https://ncpachinaorg.sharepoint.com/sites/itdepartment/Shared%20Documents/Processes/Trainings/PowerSchool%20Finding%20Student%20Info%20Quick%20Ref.docx?Web=1

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New Time-Saving Reports in PowerTeacher

Our PowerSchool Master Eric Zou has ​added three new reports to PowerTeacher to help you find information about your students.

The first, ​Incompletes Report for Teachers, shows a list of incomplete assignments, the student responsible, and the student’s parent’s email address. We hope this makes it easier to inform parents of your concerns about their children – especially if you do an e-mail merge using Outlook.

The second, Past Referrals for Teachers, shows a list of all the disciplinary log items you’ve submitted. You can sort it by student. This will help you determine how many times you’ve logged something in PowerSchool so that you can escalate to the principal’s office if necessary.

The third, Student Test Summary for Teachers, shows your students’ latest WIDA and MAP scores as well as their current grade in your course. You can use this to help you design instructional groupings.

How are we all doing?

We’re about a month into school, so it’s a good time to see where we are with our technology usage.

Office 365 & Canvas Adoption

​​Some good news here! Students are overwhelmingly logging in to Canvas – 88% access it daily, making it the tool you should use if you’re distributing content. Ditto for Office 365 groups, our preferred tool for collaborating in departments, clubs, etc. In our first month of school, the number of groups grew from 100 to 187 among students and faculty and the number of files stored in groups rose from 34,000 to 52,000. ​

We do have some work to do, though. Anecdotally, we know that students don’t read their email enough. Now we have a number: 64%. That’s the percentage of ​emails that our students read. So please reinforce the message to your students that they need to read their emails daily!

​QR Codes in the Classroom

Our parents and students LOVE QR codes – those square, pixellated images you see everywhere. Did you know you can make them yourself, for free? Simply go to http://www.qr-code-generator.com/ and paste in the URL.

But what if you want to get a URL for a Word, PPT or PDF document? Simply upload it to OneDrive (it should be there already, wink wink) and copy the sharing link. Don’t forget to uncheck the Allow Editing box first.

Once you have that, you can use QR codes to mix online and offline content. Just Google “qr codes in the classroom” or visit this blog​ post to get a lot of dieas.

Get the Latest Office 2016 and OneDrive clients

We’re still seeing staff members without the latest Office 2016 and OneDrive clients! If you stop by the IT office we can get them set up for you in a jiffy!

Trouble Accessing Canvas

If you have a problem loading Canvas off-campus, try using your phone’s mobile hotspot. We have heard a few reports of trouble using Canvas on China Telecom, but it works fine on China Mobile and China Unicom.

​PowerTeacher Pro Not Exempting Grades

Powerschool is still working to resolve an issue in which Practice assignment standard grades aren’t being exempted. This is only the issue the first time after you create each assignment. If you go back to an assignment where th​​is is a problem and uncheck the “Count in Grade” box, the change will stick and your grades will be exempted properly. We’ll post a notice here when PowerSchool resolves the issue.