TBI asked to investigate whether TNReady was hacked

State Education Commissioner Candice McQueen asked Wednesday that the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the state Office of Homeland Security investigate whether the computer system used in TNReady testing statewide was hacked this week. The commissioner told legislators she was “devastated” by the latest round of troubles for the system but will not heed Democrats’ call for her to resign.

From the Associated Press report:

McQueen asked Nashville’s district attorney to formally request that the TBI and the state Office of Homeland Security find out what happened. She is also working to find a cyber-security company that will investigate the vendor’s response. The company pays Questar Assessment Inc. to administer the test.

McQueen told lawmakers there is no evidence that any student data or information was compromised. But several of them were not satisfied.

(House Democratic Caucus Chairman) Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, asked McQueen if she would step down and demanded an independent investigation of the testing problems.

“Rep. Stewart, I will start by saying no, I do not plan to resign,” the commissioner responded. She said testing was continuing to move forward after two unusual events Monday and Tuesday.

Rep. Sheila Butt, R-Columbia, said she had gotten a text that said a high school in her district continued to have problems Wednesday afternoon.

The education commissioner was defended by several lawmakers.

“Don’t you dare resign over this,” Rep. Mark White, R-Germantown, said. He said Tennessee students had made too much progress for her to step town.

A representative from the Minnesota-based company that administers the test said it followed all the proper procedures during a possible cyberattack.

“Our data systems did what they were supposed to do,” Brad Baumgartner, chief operating officer for Questar, said. “They shut the system down.” He also said the Minnesota Bureau of Investigation has made inquiries about the possible hack.

McQueen said the state is in the second year of a two-year contract with Questar that pays $30 million annually to the company to administer the test.

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