The new guidelines reflect mainstream scientific views of evolution and represent a political defeat for advocates of "intelligent design," who had helped write the standards that are being jettisoned.
The intelligent design concept holds that life is so complex that it must have been
created by a higher authority.
The state has had five sets of standards in eight years, with anti- and pro-evolution versions, each doomed by the seesawing fortunes of socially conservative Republicans and a coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats. Moderate Republicans captured two seats from conservatives last year, paving the way for yesterday's 6-4 vote.
Changes: The board removed language suggesting that key evolutionary concepts -- such as a common origin for all life on Earth and change in species creating new ones -- were controversial and being challenged by new research. Also approved was a new definition of science, specifically limiting it to the search for natural explanations of what is observed in the universe.
"Those standards represent mainstream scientific consensus about both what science is and what evolution is," said Jack Krebs, a math and technology teacher who helped write the new guidelines. He is also president of Kansas Citizens for Science.
The state uses its standards to develop tests that measure how well students are learning science. Although decisions about what is taught in classrooms remain with 296 local school boards, both sides in the evolution dispute say the standards will influence teachers as they try to ensure that their students test well.
The board's conservative minority said the new standards will limit the information students get about evolution.
"There seems to be a pattern," said board member Steve Abrams. "Anything that might question the veracity of evolution is deleted."
Many Kansans harbor religious objections and other misgivings about evolution. The Intelligent Design Network presented petitions with almost 4,000 signatures, opposing the standards the board eventually adopted.
There have been debates or legal battles in several other states over evolution and the intelligent design argument, including the 2005 court case against the Dover Area School District, but none has inspired comedians' jokes or parodies like Kansas' ongoing battle has.
Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" had a four-part "Evolution Schmevolution" series in 2005, and hearings that year drew journalists from Canada, France, Britain and Japan.
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat re-elected last year, cited embarrassment caused by the board's past decisions on evolution as a reason to strip it of its power to set education policy.
Charles Darwin, the British naturalist who proposed the theory of evolution, was born 198 years ago Monday.