Cyber Attack on the CAASPP Test?

photo courtesy of caaspp.org

photo courtesy of caaspp.org

Alexa Palafox, Staff Writer

CAASPP testing was underway within the first three weeks of April, and juniors were tested on their English and math skills. However, on the second day of testing, there was believed to be a possible cyberattack that caused the school’s Wi-Fi to go down. 

“We know at least that this cyber-attack was not any kind of malware or aimed to be an invasion of privacy towards students,” says Dr. Adam Stites, Assistant Principal of Instruction at ALHS. “Instead, it was more of a spam…we have a very strong system and firewall, but the attackers completely overloaded it which caused it to crash.”

Juniors with fourth period English were hit to hardest, as they were scheduled to take the English Performance task. The English Performance Task is the portion of the test where students are asked to answer a long essay question. Unfortunately, many students hadn’t gotten to that point yet, and were still working on the CAT (Computer Adaptive Test) which is multiple choice. 

“The school has no direct control over the test, that’s all up to the state,” says Dr. Stites. “Their protocol is really strict..they can see absolutely everything going on with the test.”

The Performance Task saves a student’s work since there are only two major questions that require extensive written answers, whereas the CAT doesn’t. The test does not allow students to move on with an unanswered question, but if they do answer it and are unsure, they can put an answer but flag it to review that question. If a student answers the question and flags it but exits the test, they can no longer return to ANY questions previously answer, only from where they left off.

 Many students had questions flagged or lost progress due to the internet outage and could not return to answer previous questions. This could potentially affect the outcome of their scores which would be sent to colleges. Not only would it affect their placement in college, but students aiming to receive a seal of biliteracy would not be able to achieve that opportunity. A request for several students to be awarded a retake of the test was issued, however the state denied it saying it would be an “unfair advantage” for them. 

“There’s really nothing else we can directly do, but we just want our teachers and all the students who showed resilience to know that we are extremely proud of them,” says Dr. Stites.