Remember when you were in school and you had a big test day? Depending on your study habits, you were likely one of two types of students:
- You studied hard and walked into the test feeling prepared.
- You didn’t study and walked into the test hoping for a miracle.
If you were the second type of student, you recall sitting down to take your test and praying that the miracle would show its face in the form of the fire alarm going off, or an emergency weather evacuation drill, giving you a reprieve from those dreaded equations and word problems.
With technology advancements, today’s students still hope for miracles, but of a different kind.
Many tests administered today, particularly state administered tests, don’t use paper and pencil like you may have in your school days. They test online, and the miracle on test day is not a fire alarm or evacuation drill. It’s an Internet outage.
Recently, the Yakima Herald in Washington reported that internet service went down in 76 entities across the state, most of which were school districts. Moreover, many of the school districts were in the midst of state testing when the outage occurred.
Spokeswoman Angela Bennink stated that the outage was due to a “broadcast storm”—which is when a network fails due to too much data attempting to pass through at one time.
While this ‘miracle’ may have benefited unprepared students, it was a disaster for the schools themselves, causing major productivity decreases. In some districts, testing was postponed indefinitely to a to be determined date.
Even for the schools that were not in the midst of standardized testing, so much of a daily curriculum involves having internet access that many teachers find themselves at a loss when an outage occurs. Expanding beyond education, outages affect every type of entity. Imagine having to meet a client deadline later today. Your internet goes out, and all you can tell the client is, “We’ll get this deliverable to you at a to be determined date.”
That probably won’t fly.
Can an outage like this be avoided?
Sunnyside School District (in Washington) Executive Services Director, Curtis Campbell, doesn’t seem to think so.
“It is definitely an inconvenient time to have a wide outage when we’re having testing,” said Campbell. “But then again, that’s not something we can control.”
This Doesn’t Have to Be the Case; You Can Have Control
The fact is outages like what happened across Washington are avoidable with the right network and load balancing solution. With a proper solution in place that includes multiple network connections, vital traffic can continue to flow even if there is an ISP outage, automatically failing over between the connections as necessary. Many schools are already taking advantage of affordable solutions that can manage the multiple connections for resilience, as well as ongoing load balancing, traffic prioritization and optimization.
With those proper measures in place, statewide testing could have been administered without a hitch.
In the meantime, those unprepared students live to see another day.