A dump truck is behind the severed fiber optic cable that led to more disruptions in state testing Thursday, according to the company that provides internet access for many Tennessee school districts.
The cut occurred northeast of Knoxville in rural East Tennessee, between Rogersville and Mount Carmel.
State officials said the breakdown required rerouting internet traffic and slowed connectivity for students in some districts, while other school systems could not connect at all. A statement from Education Networks of America said internet connections were re-established within four hours of the “major” break on Thursday morning.
“The resiliency ENA has built into our network backbone and internet access circuits did reduce the impact of the fiber cut significantly,” said the company’s statement provided by the Tennessee Department of Education.
State officials said latest problems were not connected to Tennessee’s testing platform, which has been plagued with issues since the state’s three-week testing window opened on April 16.
“This is an issue related to local connectivity, not with the testing platform,” said spokeswoman Sara Gast. “Testing can continue, but connectivity may be slow in areas that are impacted until this is resolved.”
Many districts chose to suspend testing for the day, while others left the decision up to school principals.
In Memphis, home to the state’s largest district, a spokeswoman for Shelby County Schools said students were “not able to connect” to the state’s online platform Thursday morning and that principals would decide whether to keep trying. At least one Memphis high school was able to complete testing Thursday afternoon.
TNReady’s online test has experienced widespread interruptions on at least four days since testing began. There were log-in issues on the first day, a reported cyber attack on the second, and a problem with online rosters on Wednesday after the state’s testing company, Questar, updated its software the night before.
Concerns about the subsequent validity of the results prompted state lawmakers to pass two pieces of legislation — the latest one on Wednesday — aimed at preventing students, teachers, schools, and districts from being negatively impacted by the data.
The online issues are affecting high school students statewide. Some districts also chose to expand computerized testing this year to middle grades. For the state’s youngest students, TNReady was being given on paper.
This story has been updated. Reporter Laura Faith Kebede contributed to this report.