District Administration April 2017 - 28


BeyondtheNews
STANDARDS

Cursive writing gains renewed momentum
Is cursive writing doomed to become a long-lost art? Not if
some educators have anything to say about it.
After decades of remaining a main component of elementary education, cursive is up for debate under the Common
Core standards.
Its detractors argue that cursive is an antiquated form of
writing that's not necessary in the digital age. Proponents cite
research that indicates cursive plays a foundational role in learning other skills such as spelling and math, and even helps young
children develop fine motor skills.
Several states and districts are bringing back cursive instruction. For example, starting next year, Arizona students will be
taught cursive up to fifth grade. New York City schools have
already started implementing cursive instruction. And Ohio
Reps. Andrew Brenner and Marilyn Slaby have proposed legislation that would require students in that state to be able to
write legibly in standard print by third grade and in cursive by
the end of fifth grade.
Common Core requires that handwriting be taught in K1.

However, it doesn't specify what kind of handwriting. Steve
Graham, a professor at Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at
Arizona State University, says handwriting remains important
because despite all the prevalent communications technologies,
people still use a pencil and paper to write down thoughts.
Teacher surveys indicate that most student work is done by
hand, rather than on a computer. Even in high school, half the
assignments are still written by hand, Graham says. This means
that students need to be able to write legibly because readers-
or teachers-form opinions about the quality of the work based
on neatness. "The student might have good ideas on an essay
test, but subjectivity will play a role," Graham says. If the print
or cursive is well-formed and legible, the reader may view the
whole piece, including the content, more favorably.
Because cursive is faster than printing, a student's hand can
better keep up with their thoughts, Graham says. "If you are
going to be a good writer, your writing has to be legible, fluid
and automatic," he says.
Handwriting instruction should also extend beyond sec-

The state of cursive writing

Three states encourage cursive writing*
Six states require cursive writing
Three states with some grade-specific standards
Two states considering legislation to require it
States without a policy

*Reading and writing teachers in New Hampshire are required to
demonstrate knowledge of how students learn to encode their ideas in
manuscript and cursive.
Source: Education Commission of the States

28 April 2017

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