http://www.tennessean.com/education/archives/04/03/48661868.shtml?Element_ID=48661868 Carly Joseph rarely carried more than textbooks and a binder in her school backpack. But, by the middle of last year, it became far too hefty for her slender frame. ''Mine was heavy. I started having back problems,'' said Carly, 14. The Grassland Middle School eighth-grader changed her style of backpack but couldn't do anything about the weight of her textbooks. ''We have to take our books home to do homework. I was carrying too many,'' she said. ''You can see in the hallways where backpacks are ripped open from the books falling out.'' Carly is hardly alone. Students and parents across the state have complained about the high weight of textbooks and backpacks. And lawmakers are listening. A proposal making its way through the General Assembly calls for the state to study and set textbook weight limits in elementary, middle and high school. Elementary spelling and handwriting books are typically some of the lightest texts in public schools, while high school biology and history tomes can weigh as much as a small cat or dog. ''Standards could be a good thing,'' said Larry Gregory, director of textbook services for the state Department of Education. ''What we want to avoid is rushing into those standards too quickly.'' If approved, weight limits could be set by July 1, 2005. Many states, including Tennessee, are monitoring what happens in California, which studied textbook weights statewide and might be the first state to require lighter volumes. A recent study by the California Board of Education found that the combined average weight of books in four key subjects reading, math, science and social studies often exceeded 15% of a students' body weight, which is considered an unhealthy or unsafe weight to carry. ''We deal with the same publishers,'' Gregory said. Some publishers are offering alternatives, such as Internet Web sites that students can log on to in lieu of taking a book home. ''We're seeing more and more publishers saying, 'If you buy my book, it will come with a CD slipped in the back cover that has everything in the book plus some interactive activities,' '' he said. Even educators who like the options say they probably won't solve the problem for every student and every school. ''For that to work, you'd have to ensure that 100% of your students have a computer,'' said Doug Crosier, principal of Grassland Middle in Franklin. Some educators aren't waiting for the state to lessen students' loads. They're suggesting students finish homework at school, requiring they store backpacks in lockers during the school day or permitting backpacks with wheels. Jamie Allsmiller likes wrapping up her homework at the end of class but said few classmates use the rolling backpacks, which don't always fit in lockers. ''They're not cool,'' said Jamie, 12, a sixth-grader at Grassland who uses a bag with padded shoulder straps instead. ''I don't like those. When you're going down the hall, you can trip over them.'' Teachers at Guild Elementary try to keep students from hauling too many books. ''Children have a tendency to take everything they own home,'' said Linda Bradford, principal of the 500-student school in Gallatin. ''We do encourage students not to take a textbook home unless they have an assignment.'' Several educators, including Bradford, say they are often surprised by the weight of the bags students carry around. ''They are little-bitty, and the kids walk down the hall with these big book bags,'' she said. ''We just have to watch them.''