STARS Connections

The official newsletter for SD-STARS - August 2020

Important news about the 2019-20 report card

This year, the South Dakota Department of Education will again use SD-STARS to make Report Card data available to school districts before it is released to the public. The department wants to make districts aware of a few important items that are different for the 2019-20 Report Card. Read more...

Key Dates for the 2019-20 Report Card

August 19 – September 1, 2020

Districts have the opportunity to make appeals related to their Report Card data. This is the ONLY appeal window.

September 1, 2020

Appeal window closes at 5 p.m. CT.

October 1, 2020

Department makes final decisions on appeals.

October 7, 2020

  • Department shares state-level data from 2019-20 Report Card
  • Press release issued
  • Public Report Card goes “live” with state-, district- and school-level data

Changes happening in SD-STARS reports

Users will likely notice some small changes to many of the reports in SD-STARS. The changes are mainly cosmetic. In order to make the reports more user friendly, the SD-STARS team made the reports look and act the same where possible. This includes enhancements such as standardizing the font type, size, and color; adding a light gray color to every other row in the student-level reports; freezing some rows and columns so it’s easier to scroll through long reports; and adjusting the csv export. Read more...

COVID-19 impacts for the 2020-21 school year in SD-STARS

As students head back to school, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on data will be seen in several areas of SD-STARS.

First, since schools were closed during the state assessment testing window last year, users will notice the absence of state assessment results for English language arts, math, and science. Read more...

SD-STARS is IRB approved

In May, South Dakota State University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) reviewed the policies and procedures of SD-STARS and again granted SD-STARS IRB approval.

SD-STARS has been IRB approved since June 2015. IRBs are usually located at universities and research centers. They help minizine risks associated with human subject research, thereby protecting the people whose data are used. Even though SD-STARS is not a research project, the South Dakota Department of Education seeks IRB approval to ensure that we are doing what is necessary to protect the data in SD-STARS

SD-STARS webinar for beginners provides all users chance to navigate SD-STARS

Are you new to SD-STARS, or has it been a while since you’ve used the system? Users at all skill levels are encouraged to join the SD-STARS team and other users from public districts throughout the state as we learn about and navigate through SD-STARS.

Webinar date: August 25, 2020

Webinar series for district users: SD-STARS team provides ongoing training for statewide users

Mark your calendars! The Department of Education is offering an online training series on SD-STARS for district- and school-level users. Any SD-STARS users who wish to be trained by the SD-STARS team may attend this training series. Each session will be recorded and made available in SD-STARS, under the "Training Center" menu. Look for webinar recordings and PDFs.

Webinar series begins on October 27, 2020.

Fall training for STARS Account Managers

The department will provide two virtual training opportunities during the 2020-21 school year for STARS Account Managers (SAMs). The first training will be like the regional workshop that the SD-STARS team usually offers. Due to COVID-19, this year, the workshop is moved online via Zoom. A Zoom link will be emailed to all who register through GoSignMeUp.

Training session date: September 8, 2020

SAM training on new SD-STARS features

The second training opportunity for SAMs will be provided in January 2021. Specific date(s) will be communicated as soon as they are set. This training session will center around changes coming to SD-STARS in mid-December. Previous editions of the STARS Connections newsletter have mentioned these changes, which will affect how SAMs interact with SD-STARS. Read more...

SD-STARS team facilitated data use courses for educators

Since 2012-13, the SD-STARS team has facilitated two summer data use courses for educators: Fundamentals of Data Use for Educators, and Advanced Data Use Skills for Educators. Following are some observations from this summer’s offerings, which were both delivered as online courses. Read more...

DOE welcomes new STARS Certified Trainers

The SD-STARS team is happy to introduce two new STARS Certified Trainers - Dawn Wirth and Joan Ray! Read more...

STARS Certified Trainers

These trainers are located throughout the state and are ready and willing to answer your questions. They are available to conduct SD-STARS trainings for your school or district to help educators make the most out of SD-STARS. STARS Certified Trainers (SCTs) have been trained by department staff on the SD-STARS system and are kept up-to-date on system developments and new reports. Districts can contact SCTs directly to request training at a cost to the district.

STARS Advisory Group (SAG)

The STARS Advisory Group functions much like other district-involved groups at the Department of Education. The group gives districts a voice in discussions on possible changes to, and the future of, SD-STARS. This group positively impacts SD-STARS and works to improve the partnership and communication among the Department of Education’s SD-STARS team, other department staff, and districts. Areas of discussion include new data sources, new reports, enhancements to current reports, changes to the SD-STARS portal, and district training and support. For more information, please contact the SD-STARS team at

About Us

South Dakota STARS Connections is a bi-monthly publication for South Dakota administrators and teachers, produced by the South Dakota Department of Education. This publication is intended to communicate news and events regarding the South Dakota Student Teacher Accountability and Reporting System (SD-STARS), our Statewide Longitudinal Data System. To view an online edition of this newsletter, go to
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General Mailbox, for the quickest response to any question

Sara Kock, Team Lead

(605) 220-6548

Kim Carlson, Project Manager

(605) 773-8062

Brad Steckelberg, Support Lead

(605) 295-7260