Paper and Pencil Test Administration Is Not Impacted By Cyberattacks

Last week, seven states who contract with Questar for their statewide computer-based assessments were subject to a cyberattack.

The Rochester (NY) Democrat & Chronicle reported:

New York was one of seven states earlier this week whose student tests were hit by what was reportedly a “deliberate attack” on the computer system operated by Questar, an outside vendor.

On Tuesday, New York was one of the states whose students in grades 3-8 were taking computerized English tests, but were interrupted by what the Tennessee education commissioner called a “cyberattack.”

New York education officials confirmed Thursday that its computerized exams suffered the same problems Tuesday as other states, but Questar — the Minneapolis-based company that administers the tests — has yet to detail the cause of the problems.

The latest issues came after computer problems with the tests last week.

“The same issue that affected other states caused the system in New York to experience sporadic technical issues at a small number of schools on Tuesday morning,” Emily DeSantis, spokeswoman for the state Education Department, said in a statement.

“Questar confirmed that the origin of the issue was external to its servers. Questar reports there is no indication that any data from New York was accessed at any time. Testing resumed Tuesday after the system was reset.”

We’ve been concerned about computerized testing and its accompanying data security issues. Paper and pencil tests are simply more secure. They also will not face the possibility of disruption because of a cyberattack. Now if they upload scores and student information in an online database they still pose a data security risk, but they don’t have to.

Simply put there are far, far fewer problems with pencil and paper tests.