New testing platform in Kansas victimized by “information bombing” says developer

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KANSAS CITY -- In the past, the Kansas State Assessments have been multiple choice. The State Department of Education is testing a new computer system that allows students to be more interactive, and made it clear that this year was a field test of this new system. They expected some glitches just like when they began online testing in 2003.

The director of the Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation that developed the new testing platform for the Kansas Department of Education is Marianne Perie. She says there is nothing wrong with the test or the program itself, but they have been the victims what she calls “information bombing.”

“I think the interesting thing was we had a really good day last Wednesday and a really good day Monday, and those were the next two days we got hit,” she said.

Cyber attackers who look for servers with a lot of activity send massive amounts of information and tie up the server so those who are supposed to use it, can`t.

“Picture that there is someone out there with a giant fire hose and they are aiming it against your door so that you cannot open your door. They are not trying to hurt anyone inside, they are not trying to get inside, they just want to make sure nobody can use that door,” she said.

Perie and her group have hired an outside computer consultant to help stop future attacks.

“So basically what we are doing is making another door that is big enough that we can get the information back out to the kids because they have blocked our main door,” she said.

Until then, the Kansas Department of Education has halted testing, except in four school districts, including Olathe where a small group of students was tested Wednesday.

“It gives us a glimpse into this new test and an opportunity to prepare for the future, and it also gives KSDE an opportunity to say, ‘okay, what is working well and what needs to be fixed?’” Olathe Public Schools Deputy Superintendent Dr. Alison Banikowski said.

If all goes well, Kansas districts will resume testing Thursday, but not all students will be tested, because the testing schedules are spread out among several different days.

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