Education officials: TNReady online test may have experienced 'deliberate attack'

NASHVILLE, TN (WATE) - Tennessee education officials say that the online platform for Tennessee's testing may have experienced a 'deliberate attack' on Tuesday.

Technical difficulties TNReady has caused testing issues for students in some districts around the state since Monday.

In an email, Tennessee education commissioner Dr. Candice McQueen, reached out to school directors to express her frustration with the issue.

"We understand that over 20,000 students who logged in and took TNReady this morning did successfully complete their exams, and the platform has worked as expected in allowing students to finish even with some log-in issues," said McQueen.



McQueen said all systems came back online around 10:30 a.m.

A Tennessee Department of Education spokesperson said there was no server crash and the issue wasn't caused by volume.

Monday marked the beginning of testing for high school students in a variety of subjects, including math, English, biology, history and geography. In addition, students in grades 3-8 began taking their end-of-year tests as well. 

This isn't the first issue state educators have had with Questar Assessment, the company that administers and scores TNReady tests. In October 2017, Tennessee education officials said nearly 10,000 assessment tests across the state were impacted by a program scanning issue that caused some of them to be scored incorrectly.

In July 2016, The Tennessee Department of Education awarded a $60 million contract to develop and administer annual state assessment tests for the 2016-2017 school year to Questar. 


Here is a statement from Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen to school directors:

"It appears Questar’s data center may have experienced a deliberate attack this morning based on the way traffic is presenting itself. They are currently resetting the system. However, the attacker may take these same steps again, and Questar is actively working on further reinforcements, including notifying authorities. 

"To our knowledge, no student data has been compromised. 

"If you are testing, please continue. When a student is finished, please pause the test and note which student has used which machine, as students’ tests are stored on that specific device. Again, the software is designed to save students’ work, so if their testing session is disrupted, they can resume and submit their answers later. We will notify you when the system is back up, and the students can return to that device and submit.

"New students will likely not be able to log-in this morning, but we anticipate they will be able to do so this afternoon. We will be in touch as soon as possible with an update."


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