Ontario’s Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) has confirmed technical issues that forced the cancellation of a province-wide online trial of the literacy test last week was due to an “intentional, malicious” cyberattack.
The online secondary school literacy test was scheduled for Thursday, but students and educators weren’t able to access the system.
“An extremely large volume of traffic from a vast set of IP addresses around the globe was targeted at the network hosting the assessment application,” a statement read Monday.
“The impact of this DDoS, initiated by an unknown entity or entities, was to block legitimate users’ (i.e., school boards’, schools’ and students’) access to the EQAO test application.”
Thursday’s online test was a “voluntary trial to test the system’s readiness” before the test scheduled in March.
If students passed the online test, it would count, but if they failed or didn’t complete it, they would be considered “first-time eligible” for the test next spring.
The EQAO, which oversees standardized testing in the province, said it is confident that student assessments can successfully be administered online.
The province’s education minister echoed that sentiment, saying offering online testing is the best way to support students.
“We’re going to keep ensuring that Ontario students have an opportunity to write this test online,” Mitzie Hunter said. “Of course, in the spring we’ll ensure that there is a paper-based backup as well to ensure that all students are able to complete the test.”
The DDoS attack began just before 8 a.m. ET, the office said.
EQAO said students’ personal information wasn’t compromised during the attack.
With files from The Canadian Press