The Ohio State Board of Education voted 10-7 yesterday to approve a model lesson plan that takes a critical look at Darwinian evolution.

The 10th-grade biology lesson plan, called a “Critical Analysis of Evolution,” was created to implement a benchmark in the state science standards that requires students to be able to “Describe how scientists continue to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolutionary theory.”

“The board’s decision is a significant victory for students and their academic freedom to study all sides of current scientific debates over evolutionary theory,” said Bruce Chapman, president of Discovery Institute, an organization that examines scientific challenges to Darwinian evolution. “It’s also a victory for common sense against the scientific dogmatism of those who think evolution should be protected from any critical examination.”

The lesson plan asks students to examine various debates over parts of evolutionary theory that are discussed in science journals, such as whether microevolutionary processes are sufficient to explain macroevolution, explained the Discovery Institute in a statement.

While Discovery Institute says the lesson plan does not discuss religion or alternative scientific theories such as “intelligent design,” opponents of the plan claim it does. Critics say the lesson contains errors and misrepresentations, uses information from intelligent design websites and lifts concepts and inaccuracies from material published by intelligent design promoters, reported the Daytona Daily News.

Created with input from a science advisory committee that included teachers, science educators and scientists from across Ohio, the lesson plan was defended by a number of scientists in public testimony before the board yesterday, Discovery Institute said.

“Ohio’s science standards and this lesson will stand as a beacon to other states as they review their own approach to how evolution is presented in the classroom,” said Chapman. “This is a common-sense approach that avoids the extremes and focuses on teaching students about the scientific debates over evolution.”

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