Tennessee lawmakers fuming over new assessment test problems

UPDATE:

A TN Department of Education email says testing on the third day is going smoothly so far.

“This morning, we have seen tens of thousands of students successfully use the Nextera platform. More than 85,000 test sessions have been completed or are in progress so far today.

Additionally, the platform is designed to save students’ work locally on their computer or device, so they can resume and submit their test if they were disrupted yesterday. As you saw in the commissioner’s note last night, the majority of our schools and students have had success with doing this, and we have provided further guidance for those who need it. That note is attached here, if you missed it.”

Depend on us to keep you posted.

PREVIOUSLY:

Tennessee’s student assessment test, TNReady, has had more problems and that left state lawmakers fuming Tuesday.

State education officials announced on Tuesday morning that there appeared to have been a “deliberate attack” of the computer system of the company that administers the online test.

Later, state Education Commissioner Candice McQueen sent another email to school directors across the Tennessee saying testing had resumed and Questar Assessment Inc. had blocked unusual traffic coming into the company servers to prevent a hack of the system.

“To reiterate what we have shared earlier, there is absolutely no evidence that student data or information has been compromised,” McQueen said via email.

State lawmakers voting on the House floor stood to voice their displeasure over the latest debacle with the testing.

In 2016, the state canceled its five-year $108 million contract with a testing company because of repeated failures, including the inability of students to get online to take the tests and later with problems getting paper assessments shipped to schools on time.

Last year, state officials announced that nearly 10,000 of the tests were scored incorrectly.

“This is becoming problematic,” Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, said to his colleagues in the House.

Another lawmaker vowed to make changes in the law before the General Assembly adjourns for the year.

Rep. William Lamberth, R- Cottontown, stood up to say he filed an amendment to another bill to ensure the assessment tests would be taken on paper going forward. He also said another lawmaker’s amendment would make sure any of this year’s test scores would not count against teachers in their evaluations.

Some Mississippi schools are recovering from technical problems with online state tests, too. Schools had problems connecting with the test for about an hour Tuesday morning, the Mississippi Department of Education said, while noting that problems eased and online testing resumed by about 10 a.m.

Officials in Mississippi said they contacted Questar and await information about the outage’s cause and what the company is doing to prevent future problems.

It’s not clear how many states have been affected. There were problems reported in New York last week. A phone message left at the Minnesota-based company was not returned.