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New Core education goals eliminate requirements for cursive penmanship

Published: Sun, April 7, 2013 @ 12:15 p.m.

New Core education goals eliminate requirements for cursive penmanship

Associated Press

The debate over the value of teaching cursive writing in schools has escalated since the nation’s governors and state education commissioners launched the Common Core State Standards Initiative in 2009.

Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have since adopted the national standards, beginning next year. Only Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia have not.

The goal of the standards is to develop uniform education standards that spell out what students in kindergarten through 12th grade are taught so they can be competitive in the global economy. States can supplement the national rules with state standards.

The national standards don’t require children to learn how to read and write in cursive. They do, however, require that by the end of fourth grade, students demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to complete a one-page writing assignment.

The requirement is found in the literacy standards for English Language Arts for fourth-graders in a section that spells out standards for writing: “With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of one page in a single sitting.”

The common core standards don’t preclude teaching cursive writing. But as more time is devoted to mastering skills mandated by the standards, penmanship is dropped or less time is spent on it.


1KateGladstone(2 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Handwriting matters ... But does cursive matter?
Research shows: the fastest and most legible handwriters join only some letters, not all of them — making the easiest joins, skipping the rest, and using print-like shapes for those letters whose cursive and printed shapes disagree. (Citations appear below.)
Often, cursive programs and teachers strongly discourage such practices. Students learning cursive are taught to join all letters, and to use different shapes for cursive versus printed letters. (These requirements do not align with the research findings above.)
When following the rules doesn’t work as well as breaking them, it’s time to re-write and upgrade the rules. The discontinuance of cursive offers a great opportunity to teach some better-functioning form of handwriting that is actually closer to what the fastest, clearest handwriters do anyway. (There are indeed textbooks and curricula teaching handwriting this way. Cursive and printing are not the only choices.)
Reading cursive still matters — this takes just 30 to 60 minutes to learn, and can be taught to a five- or six-year-old if the child knows how to read. The value of reading cursive is therefore no justification for writing it.
(In other words, we could simply teach kids to _read_ old-fashioned handwriting and save the year-and-a-half that are expected to be enough for teaching them to _write_ that way too ... not to mention the actually longer time it takes to teach someone to perform such writing _well_.)
Remember, too: whatever your elementary school teacher may have been told by her elementary school teacher, cursive signatures have no special legal validity over signatures written in any other way. (Don't take my word for this: talk to any attorney.)


/1/ Steve Graham, Virginia Berninger, and Naomi Weintraub.
1998: on-line at http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/2...


/2/ Steve Graham, Virginia Berninger, Naomi Weintraub, and William Schafer.
1998: on-line at http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/2...

(NOTE: there are actually handwriting programs that teach this way.
Shouldn't there be more of them?)

Yours for better letters,

Kate Gladstone
Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works
and the World Handwriting Contest

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2LtMacGowan(713 comments)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

Actually the Constitution requires you all to pay me money. Since you don't know cursive and can't read the Constitution yourselves, you'll have to take my word for it. Now pay up.

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3cursiveforever(1 comment)posted 3 years, 2 months ago

As a high school teacher and mother of 2 in college, I know first hand that cursive is very useful and necessary. Both kids started out taking laptops to class. That stopped when they realized they could write notes faster. The one who writes in cursive gets more accurate notes written faster.
My English students were asked to bring in old family post cards and letters for an assignment. Sadly, many who did not have me for the previous year could not read their own family histories.
I would not object to students printing if they all printed in a standard "font" rather than their own Gothic, Chick, Elephant-style fonts. And reading cursive accurately is not possible unless one has physically written it. Learning to read it it in 4th grade provides none of the necessary reinforcement in later years.
While not a required standard, I teach cursive bootcamp the first 5 minutes of each class for the first couple of weeks. The kids are amazed at how easy it is to write the alphabet without picking their pencils up from the paper. Biggest benefit--I can read the paragraphs they turn in without wasting time deciphering their personal fonts.

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