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Published in Print: May 15, 2002, as News in Brief: A Washington Roundup

News in Brief: A Washington Roundup

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Education Department Releases Draft Rules on Standards, Testing

The Department of Education has released proposed regulations for standards and assessments under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which were hammered out with the help of a negotiating committee in March. ("Negotiators Retain Heart of Ed. Dept. Proposals," March 27, 2002.)

Comments on the proposed regulations must be submitted by the first week in June. Guidance about how to measure the annual progress of schools and districts, known as "adequate yearly progress," is expected within a month.

The complete text of the draft rules is available online at www.ed.gov/legislation/FedRegister/proprule/2002- 2/050302.html.

—Lynn Olson

Report: Thumbs Down on Lap Belts

Requiring lap belts on large, new school buses would have "little, if any, benefit" in reducing injuries from head-on crashes, a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says.

The report suggests that in rare instances, lap belts on large buses could actually lead to more serious neck injuries and possibly abdominal injuries.

Congress had asked the traffic-safety agency, part of the Department of Transportation, to investigate the safety value of installing safety belts on school buses. They currently are required only on small buses.

The report, sent to Congress this month, says statistics show school buses are eight times safer than cars. Each year, the nation's 450,000 public school buses transport 23.5 million children.

Lap belts are valuable in small school buses, which are more prone to rollovers, the report says. Any risks, it says, are more than offset by preventing ejections.

Combined lap and shoulder belts, if used properly, could provide some benefit on all school buses, the report says. Assuming 100 percent use, and no misuse, the agency estimates that such belts could save one life per year.

—Erik W. Robelen

Vol. 21, Issue 36, Page 25

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