Starfish is an early alert communication tool that supports student success. Students, academic advisors, and support staff are alerted when academic performance issues arise which may threaten the success of the student. Starfish allows instructors to notify their students systematically regarding their academic performance in their courses.

Table of Contents

Starfish Basics

How to Access Starfish

Starfish requires third-party cookies to be enabled. We recommend using an updated version of Firefox or Chrome for the best experience.

Students and Faculty

  1. To access Starfish, log in to Canvas.
  2. Enter your course from the Canvas Dashboard.
  3. Starfish is linked in the course navigation menu on the left side of the window.
  4. Click on the Starfish link to access Starfish.
  5. Use the other course navigation menu items on the left side of the window to return to your course content.

If you do not see a link for Starfish in your course navigation menu, you can access Starfish directly by going to


Division administrators can log into Starfish directly.

Starfish Policies and Procedures

All information contained within Starfish is considered part of a student’s official record from Johns Hopkins University.  Please be sure that any notes made in Starfish are based on facts and/or observations.  Further, please be sure that such notes are appropriate for sharing with the respective student if requested.

All information recorded in Starfish is confidential and should not be shared with others.

Browser Recommendations and Requirements

Supported Browsers

Starfish supports the most current version of each of the following browsers and the version prior to the most current version. For example, if the current version of Google Chrome is Version 107, Starfish supports version 107 and version 105.0.5195 which is the version prior to the current version of version 107.

Browser Requirements

  • JavaScript enabled
  • TLS 1.2 or better web browser support
  • Third-party cookies enabled.

How do I Raise a Tracking Item on a Student?

There are multiple ways to raise tracking items for a student. To raise a single flag, to-do, or referral on a student:

  1. Navigate to Students > My Students in Starfish.
  2. Select the desired student(s).
    • For a single student, select the checkbox to the left of the student's name.
    • To select multiple students, select the checkbox to the left of each of the desired students' names.
    • To select all students, select the checkbox at the top of the list of names.
  3. Select the desired tracking item from the button bar at the top of the My Students page.
  4. Depending on the type of tracking item you've selected, your relationship with the student, and your permissions complete the appropriate fields in the form:
    1. Item Name
    2. Course Context
    3. Due Date
    4. Assignee
    5. Comment
  5. Click Save.

Advanced Search Instructions

  1. Once in Starfish, click on the Tracking tab.
  2. Then click the Advanced Search button, to the right of the connection drop-down box.
  3. From here, you can customize what group of students you are hoping to have search results on.
    • Options include:
      • Term
      • Relationship with student
      • Tracking items, including:
        • Active, resolved, both
        • Tracking type (flag, kudo, to do, referral)
        • Tracking type name
        • Creator of tracking item
        • Due date
        • Creation date
    • Course enrollment of the student
    • Students who are on academic success plans, including in progress and completed
    • Attributes, including:
      1. Reporting Division
      2. Academic Probation
      3. Has financial aid
      4. Financial aid status
      5. Study Consulting
      6. Transcript Requested
      7. Transcript Released

Please note: if you do not clear the filter on the advanced search tab, the system will not automatically default back to no choices. Remember to clear the filter when done searching for students.

Sorting Tracking Items

There are two options to sort tracking items.

Option A:

    1. Once in Starfish, click on the Tracking tab.
    2. Choose the role connection to students you would like to sort by.
    3. Click on any of the headers:
      • Student Name
      • Item Name
      • Status
      • Created By
      • Creation Date
      • Due Date
      • Context
    4. This will sort the students within the category that you are interested in filtering by. However, you cannot filter by multiple categories at once in the Tracking tab.
    5. Additional options include selecting from the “View” drop-down box the following:
      • Inbox
      • Flag Inbox
      • Due Date
      • Overdue
      • Due in the next 7 days
      • Due in the next 30 days
      • Created by me
      • Created by instructors
      • Active and resolved
      • Completed plans
      • In progress plans

Option B:

Once you have performed the above search, you can click the download button on the top right hand of the screen, to download the information in excel and perform a multi-layered sort.

Mass Email Option

  1. Once in Starfish, click on the My Students or the Tracking tab.
  2. Make sure you have the correct connection selected to the type of student and the role you share with them.
  3. Check the box next to each student’s name you want to email.
  4. Click the Send Message button at the top of the page.
  5. Please note that you cannot customize the email so that each student’s name or identifying information is in the email, however you can send yourself a copy of each email by clicking the “Send Copy to Me” button at the bottom of the email template.

Using Starfish for Progress Survey Reporting

In Danger of Failing Customized Email

Dear {Student First Name},

Each semester, instructors are asked to provide the academic advising offices with information about how well each student is performing. Your instructor, Professor {Faculty Last Name}, is concerned that you might be in danger of failing in {Course Name with Section and Title}

Based on your progress so far and without a substantial change in your work, you might be in danger of failing. Please connect with your instructor during his/her office hours, schedule an appointment, or meet with the TA for your section as soon as possible to discuss your performance.


KSAS Academic Advising Office
WSE Academic Advising Office

This is an auto-generated email from Starfish.

Other Academic Advising/Support Resources:

Progress Survey Instructions

  1. Go to the Canvas home page and log in using your JHED ID and password. The Starfish link is inside your course in the left navigation menu. Click on the Starfish link to access Starfish.
  2. Once in Starfish, there should be an Outstanding Progress survey link for each course you are teaching that semester.
  3. Click the progress survey link, which will take you to a list of all students currently enrolled in that course.
  4. There are three options for each student:
    • No Academic Concerns
      • The survey defaults to No Academic Concerns for every student. If you choose No Academic Concerns, you are indicating that you believe this student is making satisfactory academic progress and will pass the course.
    • In Danger of Failing (Starfish Will Notify Student)
      •  If you click the box In Danger of Failing (Starfish Will Notify Student), then Starfish will send an auto-generated email to that student, indicating that you are concerned about their progress and they should come to meet with you and/or the TA for the course.
    • In Danger of Failing (Faculty Will Notify Student)
      •  If you click the box, In Danger of Failing (Faculty Will Notify Student) then you are indicating that you are concerned about the student’s progress but you have already or will be in contact with the student personally.
      • Regardless of which way you are choosing to notify the student (either by an auto email from Starfish or contacting the student yourself), this notification goes to the student’s academic advisor in the KSAS Office of Academic Advising or WSE Office of Academic Advising.
  5. The option exists to leave a note for each student if you wish. Simply click the green plus sign to the right of the student’s name.
  6. You will see a box come up for each concern checked, which you can enter in any notes. Please remember that all information entered is part of a student’s academic record with the university and a student can request to see it at any time. Please do not enter anything in the note section you would not want to be read back to the student.
  7. If you are not finished with the survey but need to step away, you can hit save a draft at the top left corner to save any information, including notes that you are currently working on. You can also submit the survey (but will not have the option to go back and make any changes once submitted).
  8. Even if you have no concerns about any of your students in any of your courses, please hit submit on each survey regardless, so we can have up-to-date information on each and every student’s academic progress.

Help and Support

Common Issue: Session Expired

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If you have any problems that you are not able to solve here, please email [email protected]