STATE-NEWSRICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ An attempt to reduce the number of required standardized tests taken by Virginia schoolchildren has failed in a Virginia Senate committee. Sen. John Miller’s bill would have cut the number of high-stakes Standards of Learning tests to the minimum required by federal law. Miller, a Newport News Democrat, said the measure would have reduced the number of required tests from 29 to 17. Miller said the tests promote rote memorization at the expense of critical thinking skills. The Education and Health Committee rejected the bill on a bipartisan 9-6 vote. The committee also rejected a perennial bill to remove a longstanding ban on beginning the school year before Labor Day without a waiver from the state Board of Education.