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Ed commissioner: TBI, Homeland Security investigating potential TNReady cyber attack

The vendor for TNReady testing said Wednesday it was investigating the cause of the issues with logging on that prevented students from taking or submitting their tests.

Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Candice McQueen announced Wednesday the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the State Office of Homeland Security are investigating the TNReady traffic pattern that was consistent with an online attack.

"(McQueen) and her team initially engaged TBI and their cyber security expertise in a briefing yesterday and worked through various channels today to officially engage them alongside the State Office of Homeland Security," a release from the Dept. of Education said.

The TBI confirmed Wednesday they have received a request from District Attorney General Glenn Funk's office to open an investigation "into an interruption in the TNReady electronic testing system," an agency spokesperson said.

McQueen's office reiterated there is no evidence that any student information or data was compromised in the incident.

More than 150,000 online test sessions were completed Wednesday which, according to the Department of Education, is the highest one-day total ever for online testing in Tennessee.

"About 300,000 students will take TNReady online this year, and while those students will participate in multiple test sessions, the statistics we see today confirm that we are able to move forward successfully with online testing," the release said.

McQueen also announced during a House committee meeting Wednesday that she will not resign following troubles with TNReady over the past couple days.

On Tuesday, Tennessee House Democrats called for McQueen's immediate resignation after TNReady testing was disrupted by issues for a second day in a row.

The twitter account for TN House Democrats posted a poll Tuesday afternoon asking if McQueen should resign, citing "yet another #TNReady debacle."

TNReady testing vendor Questar released a statement Wednesday about the problems plaguing their systems that prevented some students from taking their tests.

►Related: Parents upset with the troubling timeline of TNReady testing

Brad Baumgartner, chief operating officer for Questar released the following statement:

"At approximately 8:45am (Tuesday), CT Questar became aware of an issue that prevented students from logging on to or submitting tests. At this time, we are investigating the cause. Initial findings indicate it is external to our online delivery platform. We are working with our hosting vendor to determine the root cause and have taken necessary measures to allow students to resume successful testing. At this time, testing has resumed."

The Tennessee Department of Education chose Minnesota-based Questar Assessment to be its new vendor for the statewide standardized TNReady test.

McQueen notified school officials Tuesday the deadline for schools to complete the online tests will be pushed back from May 6 to May 9. The deadline for paper tests is still the same.

MORE: TNReady deadline extended amid online testing issues

"We are extending this window for two critical reasons: to ensure that your testing coordinators have time to recover students’ previously started tests today so no student answers are lost and to allow for the two days of issues this week," McQueen wrote in an email update about the testing issues Tuesday night.

Tennessee education officials say the company handling the online portion of the TNReady test "may have experienced a deliberate attack" Tuesday morning.

Knox County Schools spokesperson Carly Harrington said they suspended testing online for Monday and Tuesday and students taking pencil and paper tests continued testing.

On Wednesday, she said some schools had chosen not to do testing and she would send out an updated list of schools that did begin testing later in the day. Harrington had not heard of any technical issues in Knox County for Wednesday.

►Related: Knox Co. students delayed in TNReady testing after login issues