Schools uncovered some vulnerabilities in the Tennessee Department of Education’s new online testing software Thursday morning. It was part of the department's experiment to see if its new program could handle high levels of traffic before it starts administering real statewide testing, called TNReady.
Shortly before the experiment ended, Mike Looney, superintendent of Williamson County Schools, proudly tweeted that his district had broken the system. About 15,000 students across the district logged on, he says. For many, the software froze up and students couldn’t enter answers.
“We were on the system for about 20 minutes this morning and it crashed," he says. “I think that it’s a blessing that we know it now, so that we can all work together to make adjustments to make sure that when the actual assessment comes — with accountability attached to it — the product will work as needed across the state.”
Nakia Towns, assistant commissioner of data and research for the state's education department, says the department isn't aware of whether the site fully crashed, but users probably experienced a slowdown in performance.
Overall, about 110,000 users across the state logged on to the program in a three-hour window, she says. The department will analyze user data over the next week and try to fix the glitches before testing begins early next year.
“There are certainly states who have gone down this road with online assessment who probably wish that they had done this type of proactive testing," she says.