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Statewide tests resume Thursday after computer glitches fixed

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Sorry, kids – the unexpected break you had from statewide testing is over.

The Minnesota Department of Education said Wednesday the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments, or MCAs, will start up again Thursday, now that the computer glitches that had caused the tests to be suspended Tuesday have been fixed.

School districts and students in several areas of the state had trouble logging into the testing system Tuesday – the third day in the past two weeks that technical problems affected tests. Delays in accessing the testing system lasted up to 2 1/2 hours at some schools.

Pearson, the state's testing contractor, told education officials that last week's problems stemmed from server problems that occurred due to the heavy student traffic.

Tuesday's problems occurred because of a “denial of service attack,” in which someone tried to disrupt the system by overwhelming it with web traffic, Pearson said. The attack was not an attempt to steal student data; it was intended to disrupt the testing, the company said.

"Pearson has assured us that at no point was any student data at risk or compromised," said Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius in a statement.

The company has apologized for the problems, and has taken several steps to address them, she said.

Pearson is “confident that any similar service interruptions will be avoided for the remainder of the MCA testing window," according to the statement.

Because of the problems, school districts around the state will have two additional days to complete the MCAs. The testing window was schedule to close on May 8, according to MPR News.

The Education Department says 400,000 Minnesota students have taken the exams since testing opened in March, and those results are not affected by the computer problems.

The Pioneer Press reports Pearson is in the first year of a $38 million contract to provide the reading, math, and science tests, which are required for students in 3rd through 8th grades and high school.

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