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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has signed a bill that would allow Texas high school students to fail two high-stakes exams and still graduate.

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Abbott said Monday that the state “must protect” students from what he called evolving testing standards. His signature offers an immediate path to graduation for 28,000 seniors who failed one or two of five high schools exams that are typically required for a diploma.

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Critics of the bill included influential Texas business leaders. Texas Association of Business president Bill Hammond has said it will reduce the value of a diploma.

The five end-of-course exams are Algebra I, biology, English I and II and U.S. history. Abbott says the new rules protect students from “undue penalization.”

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