Senate OKs Testing, Graduation Standards Overhaul

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The Texas Senate has unanimously passed a major high school curriculum overhaul, reducing the number of standardized tests students must pass to graduate high school from 15 to five.

The measure approved Monday is largely consistent with the House version approved in March. Both will now be reconciled in conference committee.

The House also cut the number of state-mandated exams to five. But its bill would have allowed youngsters to earn base diplomas without taking upper-level math and science courses, including Algebra II.

The Senate version requires most students to take four years of math, but offers more flexibility on what courses they can take.

The bills come amid an over-testing backlash. Critics, though, worry that they could weaken curriculum and leave high school graduates ill-prepared for demanding jobs.