House Dems call for resignation of education commissioner

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After a second day of issues with the TNReady assessment platform, Tennessee House Democrats called for the resignation of Department of Education Commissioner Candice McQueen.

“[It’s] just the latest in the many excuses for the test’s massive failure,” read a post on the House Democrats’ official Twitter on Tuesday afternoon.

Tennessee Department of Education officials said that the online platform for Tennessee’s public school testing may have experienced a ‘deliberate attack’ on Tuesday.

Department officials say there is no evidence that student data or information was compromised in the in the attack, adding that the software is designed to mask and protect student information.

The source of the unusual traffic patterns has been blocked and the testing company, Questar, is working to prevent further issues, according to state officials.

A Knox County Schools spokesperson said Tuesday the district was impacted by the testing issues and officials decided to suspend online testing for the day. They plan to begin testing again on Wednesday, once they receive an “all-clear” from the state.

Testing for students taking pencil and paper tests continued as normal. 

Blount County schools were also affected at the high school level, leading to the district suspending testing for the day. 

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

McQueen out to school directors to express her frustration with the issue on Monday.

“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. 

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