Some of the Texas high school students who failed their state standardized exams got some welcome news from the Texas Education Agency on Wednesday.

Because the governor signed House Bill 5 into law on Monday, the agency announced that to graduate, students would not have to retake exams if they failed them in one of the six subjects that the legislation drops from the state's testing requirements: algebra II, chemistry, English III, physics, geometry and world history. Under current law, they would have two more chances to pass if they failed them the first time around.

“Whenever the state revises its graduation plans and assessment requirements, many high school students get caught in that transition,” said TEA Commissioner Michael Williams. “The Texas Education Agency is working to make that transition a smooth one for those already in the pipeline, while also balancing fairness to those students who have successfully completed components of the current system.”

HB 5 reduces the number of end-of-course exams students must take to graduate from 15 to five — in English I, English II, biology, algebra I and U.S. history. It combines currently separate reading and writing exams into a single test for each level of English.

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Texas students struggled the most on their writing exams, where in English I just 54 percent passed and in English II just 52 percent passed. Because the new law consolidates rather than eliminates the writing exams, the transition plan from the TEA doesn't change any graduation requirements for them. Students won't be able to take advantage of the single English reading and writing exams until next spring.

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