AUSTIN (KXAN) - Big changes for Texas public school students are in the books after House lawmakers passed House Bill 5.
All but two lawmakers voted "yes" to the measure which passed shortly before 7 p.m.
The bill cuts the number of standardized tests kids must pass to graduate from 15 down to five. It also creates new graduation plans for career tech students who want to go straight to work after high school instead of going to college.
"I think the five would be much easier," said Alyzon Stenglein, a sophomore at Akins High School in South Austin.
At a Sylvan Learning Center in Bastrop, high schoolers are cramming for the end of course exams they'll take in the next month, working on Algebra II and Geometry.
"For us, it means we do less tutoring, but, we can spend more quality time on the tutoring that we're doing," said Gerry Beathard, the executive director at Sylvan.
Cutting the number of end of the year tests, isn't the only change HB-5 includes. The bill also changes graduation requirements, providing different pathways to a diploma. This could help, in particular, students seeking career training.
The Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Academy at Akins High School, known as STEM, can provide that path for students.
"Our program attracts students who are interested in both," STEM program director Juan Gonzalez said. "Either achieving academically or finding out what they're able to do in a hands-on world, whether it be machining, or welding, or woodworking or what have you."
Gonzalez doesn't think changes in testing and curriculum take away from a student's passion to learn.
"No matter how they're asked to be tested or perform to gain their graduation requirements, still kids are always going to have the same desires as they've had before," he said, "and that's to find out what they're good at what they can be successful at."
While only two House lawmakers voted against HB-5, it has its opponents. The Texas Association of Business released a statement saying the bill's proposed changes allow students to take the path of least resistance to get a high school diploma. They argue the bill won't help students or employers.
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