Minn. tests are hacked — again

Officials in Minnesota suspended online testing on May 13 for the second time this spring after another cyberattack crippled the vendor’s computer system and prevented students across the state from finishing standardized tests in science, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports.

A similar attack occurred last month, but Pearson, the educational services behemoth that serves as the state’s vendor for the standardized tests, said the one last week was “larger and more sophisticated.”

This time, students were unable to log in for the science tests, or they experienced very sluggish responses from Pearson’s servers.

Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said she and others at the Minnesota Department of Education are now concerned that Pearson isn’t competent to deliver online tests.

“It is simply unacceptable and unfair to subject students and teachers to this kind of uncertainty in a high-stakes testing environment,” the paper quoted her as saying. “After the April 21 suspension, Pearson added additional security measures to prevent this type of disruption. Given the need to suspend testing today, I have questions about Pearson’s ability to follow through on their assurances.”

Almost all students are taking the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs) online this year, as two years ago, Pearson was awarded a three-year, $33 million contract to deliver them online. The company said student data was not compromised in the attack.

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Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.