Topeka — State Board of Education members expect to review the first draft of proposed changes in science testing standards in December.
The standards determine what subjects are covered -- and how -- in statewide tests administered to students every other year. Revising the standards could reopen a debate over how schools teach evolution.
But the board didn't discuss evolution Tuesday, when it unanimously approved its directions for a committee working on new science testing standards. Under those directions, the committee is supposed to submit its first draft to the board in December.
Current science standards, adopted in 2001, describe evolution as among the most important scientific ideas for students to learn before graduating from high school.
Standards adopted in 1999 had put much less emphasis on the topic, mentioning evolution only once.
While those standards did not banish evolution from Kansas classrooms or require teaching of alternatives such as creationism or intelligent design, some scientists worried the vote would start those trends.
Evolution was the biggest issue in board elections in 2000, which left it with a 7-3 majority in favor of evolution-friendly standards. Elections in 2002 left the board split 5-5, with one group of Republicans often identified as the board's conservative bloc and three other Republicans and two Democrats seen as a moderate bloc.
The state Department of Education is in the process of appointing members to the committee on science standards, Commissioner Andy Tompkins told the board.