Students will take significantly fewer statewide tests after Minnesota lawmakers cut the state's testing budget in half during a special legislative session earlier this month.

Students will take significantly fewer statewide tests after Minnesota lawmakers cut the state's testing budget in half during a special legislative session earlier this month.

The Legislature reduced the state Department of Education's testing budget from $42 million in the last two-year cycle to $22 million for the next two years, Minnesota Public Radio News reported.

Lawmakers repealed several high school tests and stopped funding for the ACT college entrance exam for juniors. They also decided to bring an immediate end to the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment GRAD tests in writing, reading and math and the Explore, Plan and Compass ACT test, both of which were expected to be phased out in the state next year.

The department has spent the past two weeks examining the education bill to see how the changes ordered by lawmakers will affect statewide assessments.

The Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment tests, federally-mandated exams in reading, math and science taken annually by students in third through eighth grade, will remain in place.

Lawmakers' decision to end the requirement for all juniors to take the ACT college entrance exam, which was ordered in 2013 as a way to get more minority and low-income students to take the ACT as a step toward college, represents the biggest change in statewide testing, education officials said.

"We consider that the most disappointing point of this bill and it's a major retreat," said Charlene Briner, the state Department of Education's chief of staff.

A much higher percentage of the state's 64,000 juniors took the test this year than in 2014, according to the department.

But school administrators agree that the test shouldn't be mandated, lawmakers said.