MCA student testing will resume Friday with new security measures in place


Minnesota students will resume taking the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment science test Friday.

Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said in a news release that Pearson – the company that runs the testing system – offered an explanation for what caused the service issues this week, and said they are "confident that testing can resume properly" starting Friday.

The state suspended MCAs testing Wednesday, the second time it's had to do so in as many months, after yet another disruption with the glitch-plagued online testing system.

Pearson experienced a “distributed denial of service attack,” (sometimes referred to as DDoS) which means the testing system was intentionally disrupted by an outside source. The cyberattack was similar to what happened last month, but this is being called a “larger and more sophisticated attack.”

School districts reported students experienced serious delays with the online testing system while taking the MCAs Wednesday, leading to Cassellius to hit pause.

According to the commissioner, Pearson said it has "implemented new filtering parameters" to stop the disruptions, and the new measures prevented another attempted DDoS attack on the system Friday morning.

Wrote Cassellius in the statement:

"As I said yesterday, these disruptions are absolutely unacceptable. Cyberattacks of this nature are, unfortunately, a reality of the world we live in. However, we expected the proper security measures to be in place to anticipate and deal with this reality. And they weren't. Pearson has assured us that they are doing everything in their power and deploying every available resource to ensure these disruptions will not continue."

The department will not be extending the window to take the MCA science test.

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