The state that spurred the major expansion of standardized testing decades ago and became a model for No Child Left Behind is now saying “no” to copious amounts of testing, de-emphasizing seat time requirements, and placing a priority on online and vocational learning.

Starting in fall 2014, the roughly 1.4 million high school students in Texas will only have to complete five tests, down from 15. House Bill 5 was unanimously passed by both the Texas House of Representatives and the Texas Senate, and is designed to give more flexibility to students who want to focus on career and technical training, not just college-prep courses.

Changes in testing happened in large part amid a backlash from students, parents, and teachers about too much testing, as well as low passing rates for the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness exam (STAAR).

(Next page: Backlash and online learning)