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PALS Security Incident

Updated 01/26/2022

We recently became aware of a security incident involving one of the school's third-party vendors, called PALS. This Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS) system helps teachers plan appropriately leveled reading instruction for our students.

We cannot say for certain if any St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School data was accessed as part of this incident, and only a minimal amount of student information was stored in this system. But in the interest of transparency we wanted to make you aware of the situation now, rather than waiting for a full debrief. A forensic examination of the incident is underway.  As more information is made available, we will share that with parents.

What is PALS?

The Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS) assessment tracking system is provided by a vendor called Illuminate. The tests themselves are administered to students on paper, and the teachers (or learning resource teachers) enter the test results for their students. The tests are typically given 3 times a year, and the teachers review the results in comparison to previous scores, to identify problem areas.

Security Incident
On January 9, St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School was notified of a PALS service disruption that was the result of an attempted security incident. This notification included no specific details, but did share that PALs is working with third-party forensic specialists. 

On January 21 the school was notified that this work is ongoing, and we do not have an estimated completion date at this time. 

What PII (Personally Identifiable Information) was stored in PALS?
St. Stephen's and St. Agnes has provided PALS with JK through 3rd grade students' first and last name, school-assigned ID number, grade level, date of birth, gender, and student scores on their reading assessments. 

PALs has no financial information - thus no credit card numbers, no bank account information, nor any social security numbers were stored in this system. 

St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School also provided teacher names and email addresses for all relevant lower school homeroom teachers, as well as some administrators and administrative staff, for the accounts that allow them to access the PALS system and review student results.

The Information Technology Department at St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School continues to monitor this situation, and will provide further updates as more details become available.

Age 3-Grade 12 coed Episcopal day school in Alexandria, Virginia


List of 3 items.

  • Lower School

    Age 3-Grade 5
    400 Fontaine Street
    Alexandria, Virginia 22302
  • Middle School

    Grades: 6-8
    4401 West Braddock Road
    Alexandria, Virginia 22304
  • Upper School

    Grades: 9-12
    1000 St. Stephen's Road
    Alexandria, Virginia 22304