'Deliberate attack' blamed for most recent TNReady delays

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Frustrations boiled over when the TNReady test, which is required for all high school students and most middle school students in Tennessee, ran into problems again Tuesday.

"How long are we going to continue to make excuses for this failed test," Rep. Antonio Parkinson said in the state capitol Tuesday.

Parkinson learned that the tests hit yet another snag Tuesday while he was on the House floor in Nashville. So he brought up his concerns during an official government meeting.

"How much more talking are they going to do? When will there be action?" Parkinson said.

Students struggled to log in and take their TN Ready tests Tuesday. That happened a day after the tests were supposed to start--but failed because of technical problems.

"We had students that were in tears this morning, because they had worked on these essays and when it came time to submit the system would not let them submit them," Lakeland Schools Superintendent Dr. Ted Horrell said. "Very disappointing."

State leaders said the two incidents were unrelated. They said Tuesday's problem was likely due to Minnesota-based Questar being targeted in a cyber attack.

Questar reset its systems and was able to fix the problem.

Questar became the vendor for TNReady two years ago when another vendor botched the rollout of the online testing system.

Tennessee is currently paying Questar $30 million a year.

Lakeland Schools Board of Education chairman drafted a letter to Gov. Bill Haslam and Education Commissioner Candice McQueen. The letter asks both state leaders to suspend the online testing known as TNReady.

"We spent obviously the better part of the year making sure we are ready for these assessments, and then when it comes time to take the assessments, the system is not ready for them," Horrell said.

The Tennessee Education Association (TEA) in a statement is calling for a full accounting of the problems and how they affect students, parents, and teachers.

"TEA and its members are extremely disappointed with the failures and delays of the state online assessment system, TNReady. TEA is calling for a full and accurate accounting of the problems and how they affect students, along with proof that the system is secure and fair to Tennessee's parents and teachers. The association is calling on lawmakers to hold students, teachers and schools in light of the failures and growing concerns of the state testing system harmless.

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