Kingsport, Sullivan schools hit by Tuesday TNReady snafu

Rick Wagner • Apr 18, 2018 at 5:15 PM

KINGSPORT — Sullivan County Schools and Kingsport City Schools, like most if not all districts across the state, were affected by the online TNReady standardized testing snafu Tuesday.

The issue might have been caused by a cyber attack on the system a private vendor uses for the online testing, state education officials said. However, the Tennessee Department of Education said there is no evidence test results or other data were compromised. The DOE reported Wednesday that approximately 150,000 tests were completed or underway with Nextera.

TCAPs (Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program tests) are give in grades 3-8, while EOC (end-of-course) tests are given in high school. Both fall under the TNReady program.

Michael Hubbard, director of performance excellence for KCS, said the EOC scores for half-year high school classes came back in plenty of time to figure into grades. It remains to be seen if that will be the case for spring TCAP and EOC tests for student grades and for a portion of teacher evaluations.

To be eligible to be part of students’ grades, scores would have to be available five days before the last student day of a system, and most local systems have their last day in late May.


Hubbard and KCS Assistant Superintendent of Administration Andy True said that Tuesday KCS students in grades 6-12 successfully submitted 886 online tests but that another 315 were unable to test.

“We suspended testing after the issue occurred,” Hubbard explained Wednesday. However, he said that all tests that were started were able to be completed and submitted.

Hubbard said that Wednesday testing was suspended at D-B for the day because of the death of School Resource Officer Sean Cornett, who Kingpsort Police annouced Tuesday night had died unexpectedly while out of town on vacation. 

“We just wanted to have the counselors and teachers ready for grieving students,” Hubbard said. 

He said grades 3-5 continued as usual using paper tests Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Sevier Middle students also resumed testing online Wednesday, although he said Robinson Middle students did not because of a platform issue unrelated to Tuesdays statewide problems. Moving forward, Hubbard said, online testing should resume at D-B Thursday, continue at Sevier and hopefully resume at Robinson.

Also, he said missed tests will be rescheduled within the DOE testing window, which has been extended because of the Tuesday issues. A separate issue Monday blocked some test takers from accessing the testing site.

“We’re doing what we need to do,” Hubbard said.


Sullivan County Director of Schools Evelyn Rafalowski said that testing started Tuesday in the county system. Schools were not in session Monday because the NASCAR race at Bristol Motor Speedway was completed that day after being halted by rain on Sunday.

In Sullivan, she said, all grades 6-12 students and some fifth-graders are testing online, with the rest of the fifth-graders and grades 3-4 testing on paper.

“Our (online) issues were the admission of the test,” Rafalowski said Wednesday, a day the sytem did no online testing so quarantined computers containing test data not yet uploaded could be cleared. The path forward is to test again beginning Thurdsay morning. She said all tests taken online Tuesday were submitted Tuesday or Wednesday and that systems doing online testing Wednesday reported few problems.


Something Hubbard and Rafalowski predicted won’t happen is students scheduled for online tests instead taking paper tests.

“I don’t know how they could get it printed in time,” Hubbard said, adding that multiple versions of the tests, to minimize the chances of cheating, would make emergency distribution of printed ones difficult. The online testing has been problematic for years, with a breakdown occurring last year. Kingsport and many school districts did not use the spring 2017 test scores to figure into student grades because the results came too late. Another issue is that student scores were not available in a timely fashion to be included in teacher evaluations. The state changed testing vendors because of problems in the past.

“High school had to be online,” Rafalowski said.

Two years ago, she recalled, printed tests were rushed to schools but results didn’t get back in time for use in student grades.



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