STARS Connections

The official newsletter for SD-STARS - February 2021

Q & A with new Division of Learning & Instruction director

In December, Shannon Malone took over as director of the Division of Learning and Instruction, the division that oversees SD-STARS. She was promoted from her previous position at the department: administrator for Title I and accountability. The SD-STARS team had some questions for Shannon.


Plan for the 2020-21 state assessments, accountability report card

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the South Dakota Department of Education has been working with districts and stakeholders to determine how best to proceed with both the state assessments and the accountability report card.

  • What does this mean for state assessments?
  • What does this mean for the accountability report card?

SD-STARS updates

Several changes and updates are new or coming soon in SD-STARS.

  • New ACT data
  • Indicator 7 reports
  • Report Enhancement: AC.022.00-A - Student FAY List - Projected


SAM training, new administrative features

STARS Account Managers (SAMs) from 20 school districts joined the SD-STARS team on Jan. 14 to explore the new User Administration interface in SD-STARS. They learned how to help users log in to the system and what to do if they get locked out. SAMs also learned how to use the new Admin features to approve, manage, and disable SD-STARS accounts.


Upcoming SD-STARS webinar

The SD-STARS team will offer two webinars for district users in February and March, 2021.


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


Tuesday, Mar. 23, 1:30-2:30 p.m., CT: Communities Menu for Special Education


Department to offer data use course

This June, the South Dakota Department of Education, with the cooperation of the University of South Dakota, is offering a graduate-level course called “Fundamentals of Using Data for Educators.” This course provides educators with the skills they need to analyze and use data to answer important questions to drive positive change in their school, district, or classroom.


Fundamentals of Using Data for Educators


Session #1: Tuesday, June 8th, 8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m., CT

Session #2: Thursday, June 10th, 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m., CT

Session #3: Thursday, June 17th, 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m., CT

FBI warning for districts

In a December 10 advisory, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) warned that cyber actors have been targeting K-12 distance learning education -- causing disruption and stealing data -- and will continue to do so throughout the 2020-21 school year.


Report DIGs updated in SD-STARS

This fall, the SD-STARS team has been busy adjusting reports to ensure a common look and feel, no matter which report a user may access(i.e. drop-down options in parameters include the same phrasing across most reports, and the order of demographic columns are uniform between different reports).


Browser information - Why SD-STARS doesn't work with Internet Explorer

In 2015, Microsoft released the Edge browser as a replacement for Internet Explorer and has continued this modernization strategy with the release of New Edge on Jan. 15, 2020. Because of this, Internet Explorer no longer receives major updates adding the latest security and functionality that supports sites like SD-STARS.


FERPA, data resources for districts

New resources are available from the US Department of Education related to FERPA, PPRA, and more. Recently released information includes:

  • New videos on the FERPA complaint process
  • New guidance on Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA)
  • Redesigned FERPA and PPRA complaint page
  • New FERPA flyers
  • LEA privacy website review second year report
  • COVID-related resources


Top 10 reports accessed

The following SD-STARS reports have been accessed the most by users in schools and districts, from July 1, 2020 - Dec. 31, 2020. (Ranked, with most popular report at the top of the list).


State offices closed for Presidents Day

The SD-STARS team will not be available on Monday, Feb. 15, due to state offices being closed for Presidents Day. We will be back in the office to answer questions and assist users Tuesday, Feb. 16.

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