Federally mandated math and reading tests will continue, but a rewrite of the nation's education law will give states, not the U.S. government, authority to decide how to use the results in evaluating teachers and schools.

The Senate on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly, 85-12, to approve a rewrite of the landmark 2002 No Child Left Behind law. On Thursday, President Obama will sign it into law.

One key feature remains: Public school students will still take the federally required reading and math exams. But the new law encourages states to limit the time students spend on testing, and it will diminish the high stakes for underperforming schools.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.), who with Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.) was chief author of the bill, called the legislation a "Christmas present" for 50 million children across the country. - AP