STARS Connections

The official newsletter for SD-STARS - December 2020

English learner projected targets

How one Sioux Falls educator's question led to new EL report

“What if we could look at current EL population and see right away when their first ACCESS test was and its score, how many years are expected to the projected exit date, and other information that is included in the report card?”

Nicole Hansen, who works for the Sioux Falls School District, asked the SD-STARS team this question in January 2019. Read more...

New items in the Content Library

The SD-STARS team updated the Content Library with the following articles, documents, and guides to help educators. Users may find these articles by using the search box at the top of each page in SD-STARS or by selecting the Content Library menu.

  • Continuous Improvement in Education: A Toolkit
  • Parent and Family Digital Learning Guide
  • Accountability: 2020 Equity Report Calculation Guide
  • FERPA and COVID-19
  • FERPA and Virtual Learning Related Resources


Coming Soon: A new look for SD-STARS

SD-STARS is getting a new look! In late December, SD-STARS users will notice some changes that are the result of an update to our portal software called Blender. Read more...

Data loads and updates

Recent data loads and updates include:

  • Data Load: Dual Credit
  • Data Load: ACT
  • Report Update: Subgroup Longitudinal Performance
  • Report Update: Student FAY List – Projected
  • Updated Resource: Data Sources and Reports


Ask the Experts

The SD-STARS teams answers the following questions:

  • What browser should I use to access SD-STARS?
  • Are districts required to have printed versions of the report card?


COVID-19 privacy, hacking threats

The director of the Student Privacy Policy Office at the U.S. Department of Education recently published a blog response to four of the most common questions about federal education privacy laws as they relate to disclosure of information about COVID-19 cases. Read more...

Training series recap, invitation

Users explore reports in ongoing SD-STARS training series

The SD-STARS team began a webinar training series in October. Following is a recap of the first two sessions in the series and a sneak peek at the third session, which will be offered in February 2021.


Tuesday, Feb. 23, 1:30-2:30 p.m., CT: Finding trends & making observations


Upcoming SD-STARS webinars

Learning opportunities for SAMs, EL, and SPED

The SD-STARS team will provide the following online trainings in the coming months.


Thursday, Jan. 14, 10:30-11:30 a.m., CT

SAM webinar to introduce new Admin menu


Thursday, Jan. 28, 2:00-3:00 p.m., CT

SD-STARS/EL joint webinar


Tuesday, Mar. 23, 1:30-2:30 p.m., CT

New feature: Special education community


State offices closed for holidays

The SD-STARS team will not be available on the following days, due to state offices being closed for the holidays:

  • Thursday, Dec. 24
  • Friday, Dec. 25
  • Friday, Jan. 1
  • Monday, Jan. 18 (Martin Luther King, Jr Day)

We will be in the office to assist users Dec. 28-31.

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.

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
Contact us with story ideas or questions.


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