Louisiana's first new science standards in two decades won final approval Wednesday from the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The revisions, which sparked two hours of public testimony on Tuesday, cleared their final hurdle without discussion.

The changes will take full effect for the 2018-19 public school year. 

The upcoming school year will be used as a transition period, with field tests in the spring of 2018.

Students will face their first meaningful exams on what they know about the revamped benchmarks in the spring of 2019.

Officials said the rollout will make the changes easier for school districts.

The move to Common Core caused controversy, in part because local officials said they did not have enough time for the new standards in reading, writing and math.

Teacher training and the identification of curricula will begin later this year.

The science guidelines were recommended by a 39-member panel after six months of meetings.

Leaders said the revisions will allow students to study science topics in depth rather than classes covering a wide range of subjects with little examination.

On Tuesday critics said the standards are too rigid and will stifle debate on evolution.

But BESE voted to attach a 2008 state law onto the new benchmarks in a bid to quell criticism.

That law, called the Science Education Act, was promoted as a way to ensure wide-ranging classroom debates on evolution, global warming and other topics.

Louisiana has the third oldest standards in the nation, and they were last overhauled in 1997.

In another area, BESE gave final approval for a $3.7 billion, mostly standstill request to the Legislature on state aid for public schools.

The proposal mirrors one by Gov. John Bel Edwards.

It would leave state spending per student unchanged, which has happened often since 2009.

However, the plan includes a $10 million hike for dual enrollment – high school students earning college and career credits – and $8 million for high-needs students.

The state also would spend more money for new students, as it always does.

State Superintendent of Education John White told BESE the proposal will be controversial and may return to the policymaking panel later this year because of state financial conditions.

The Legislature can only accept or reject the request but cannot change it.

The state faces a shortfall of $600 million or more starting July 1, which means even a standstill budget may spark resistance.

Public schools, unlike higher education, have avoided cuts in per pupil spending during the past eight years of state budget problems.

The session starts April 10.

Follow Will Sentell on Twitter, @WillSentell.