Thursday, May 21, 2015

Pearson Blames 'Third Party' Attack for Disrupting Minnesota Online Tests

Minnesota halted its state assessments in science on Wednesday and Thursday due to a lack of confidence "that Pearson's system will operate smoothly," Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius announced.
For the second time this testing season, Minnesota's assessments were disrupted by a "distributed denial-of-service attack," and Pearson, the global education company that designed and is administering the state's tests, told state officials that this was a larger and more sophisticated attack than one that occurred on April 21.
"It is simply unacceptable and unfair to subject students and teachers to this kind of uncertainty in a high-stakes testing environment," Cassellius said in a statement"I have questions about Pearson's ability to follow through on their assurances." The company holds a three-year contract, valued at $33.8 million, to administer Minnesota's reading, math and science proficiency tests. 
Pearson also released a statement, saying the company had worked throughout the day on Wednesday to mitigate what it described as malicious third-party attacks, in an effort to "minimize the disruptions and return service to normal." The company also said it is actively working to "strengthen our defenses to fend off these attacks," and assured the state that student data was not targeted, or at risk.

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