MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It was an all-too-familiar situation for the Minnesota Department of Education Wednesday.

The commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Education says science assessment testing was suspended due to a cyber attack.

Brenda Cassellius says a “distributed denial of service attack” disrupted the Science Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments, which are given by the computer-based testing company Pearson.

A similar attack disrupted MCA testing in April, but Pearson says Wednesday’s attack was “larger and more sophisticated.”

“After the April 21 suspension, Pearson added additional security measures to prevent this type of disruption,” Cassellius said. “Given the need to suspend testing today, I have questions about Pearson’s ability to follow through on their assurances.”

Education Minnesota President Denise Specht says the MCA’s are used to determine the effectiveness of teachers and schools.

“I thought it was like the movie ‘Groundhog Day,'” Specht said. “Here we go again.”

She says flawed testing technology is going to lead to flawed data.

“We did a survey of 500 educators and 90 percent of them said they believe this year’s test scores cannot be trusted,” Specht said.

The education department says MCA testing is also canceled Thursday, and there is no word on when testing will resume.

“It’s more than a little frustrating,” Minnesota Department of Education’s Chief of Staff Charlene Briner said. “It’s absolutely unacceptable that we have students and teachers subjected to this kind of uncertainty.”

State Sen. Chuck Wiger wants to give districts the power to throw out this year’s scores, and he wants Pearson to return the $12.5 million it was paid by the state.

Wiger called Wednesday’s testing problems “absolutely unacceptable.”

The education department says they have close to 50,000 science tests left to administer.

Kate Raddatz

Comments