Rochester Schools Cancels MCA Tests Amid Cyber Incident Fallout
Earlier this month, the district’s technology staff shutdown the district’s connection after noticing what’s described as “irregular activity” on its network. District leaders later acknowledged that experts determined an "outside actor" gained access to some school district data, however RPS says there’s no evidence at this point that the affected data involving Rochester Public Schools employees has been used for financial fraud or identity theft.
RPS leaders announced Monday that the district will not conduct Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments testing. The testing was set to take place this month and was initially pushed back in the wake of the presumed cyber attack.
The statement listed the hurdles the district is facing in conducting the testing following the cyber incident:
Passwords would need to be reset on more than 10,000 student devices. While this process is underway, we could not guarantee reaching every student device successfully in the available time.
In addition to password resets, all student and proctor devices require installation of testing software to successfully conduct testing for students.
Certain tests require the ability to stream video. Streaming video is a high bandwidth activity at a time that our wireless internet services are running at reduced capacity.
State technology and regulation does not allow the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) to extend the testing window for any districts within the state.
We are not able to administer paper tests as MDE and its contractor are unable to make available the volume of paper tests required.
District leaders say they’re working with the Minnesota Department of Education to determine what not administering the standardized testing means for RPS students and will update families on the next steps. The cyber incident also forced the district to cancel ACT testing that was scheduled to happen this month.
Superintendent Kent Pekel released the following statement upon announcing the MCA cancellation:
We reached the conclusion that we are not able to implement the state assessments very reluctantly. We take those tests seriously as a measure of the performance of our system, and a tool for meeting the educational needs of our students. We look forward to resuming administration of the MCA tests in future years after we have resolved the cyber security incident we are working through this spring
District leaders say it appears no student data was accessed during the presumed cyber attack. The district’s technology staff has been working with third-party experts to review the after effects of the cyber security incident.