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Indy teacher travels to Washington, D.C. to discuss assessment testing

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WASHINGTON D.C. - As Indiana searches for a new test to replace the ISTEP exam, one teacher traveled to the nation's capital to make sure teachers are at the forefront of deciding how Hoosier students are tested moving forward.

Emanuel Harper from Herron High School was one of three Teach Plus teachers to sit down with U.S. Secretary of Education John King Jr on Wednesday. The discussion centered around how to restore balance in assessment testing nationwide.

The talk comes as Congress recently passed the new Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, to replace No Child Left Behind.

ESSA will allow state's to choose how they test their students and Harper wants to make sure teachers are leading the conversations.

"It’s so important that we as teachers, who are spending the time with the students everyday, be a part of that conversation," Harper told King. "Because if it comes from the legislature or people who aren’t on the ground with students, I think that creates distrust and it doesn’t serve kids which are our core responsibility."

After a series of scoring delays and technical glitches, Governor Mike Pence signed a bill eliminating the ISTEP after 2017. A panel, primarily made up of teachers and superintendents, is currently searching for a replacement and it could take any form.

One suggestion made today to King is to differentiate tests for different students based on how they learn.

Harper also called on Indiana lawmakers to set meetings at times when teachers from across the state would be attend.

"What I would like to see if more flexibility on our legislature to understand the working day of a teacher and provide opportunities outside of the school day to have teachers come and talk to them," said Harper. "When we craft assessments as teachers and when the State provides us with meaningful assessments that measure students ability I think students go into those assessments confident."

ISTEP has one more year in Indiana. The panel chosen to find a replacement has until December 1 to make recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly.