Education department: TNReady issues stemmed from testing company

Local News

The Tennessee Department of Education announced Wednesday that issues with the state’s TNReady testing that plagued schools this spring were not the result of a malicious attack. Instead, the department said the issues were the fault of the testing vendor, Questar.

The department said what Questar initially said was a denial of service attack on April 17 was actually traced back to caching issues connected to how the service’s text-to-speech function was configured. According to the department, Questar implemented a “significant and unauthorized” change to the text-to-speech function that led to a number of online testing issues.

The department told Questar they would be reducing their payment to the company for the spring assessment by $2.5 million because of “substandard performance issues” and the costs the state incurred addressing those issues this spring.

The department announced Thursday they would be seeking new bids for the state’s testing vendor for the 2019-20 school year and beyond.

“Teachers, students and families deserve a testing process they can have confidence in, and we are doing everything possible to meet that responsibility,” Education Commissioner Candice McQueen said. “We are always committed to listening and improving, and we’ll continue to do just that.”

The administration of the TNReady test in spring 2018 sparked a litany of issues, including website outages and a possible cyber attack.

The state signed the current contract with Questar in 2016 and began working with them during the 2016-17 school year. 

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