The Union Recorder

April 15, 2013

Baldwin Co. Schools still teach cursive writing lessons in digital era

Vaishali Patel
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — Growing up in Milledgeville and having attended Baldwin County public schools, Laura Crittenden recalls learning the importance of cursive handwriting and having good penmanship. Now as a third-grade English language arts teacher at Eagle Ridge Elementary School, she said the emphasis on teaching cursive writing to youth accustomed to the digital age has dropped as educators are devoting more time to mastering skills mandated by state standards.

“Cursive handwriting is much less common than it was in the past. Since cursive handwriting is now included in the new Common Core standards, teachers are teaching it, but it is not emphasized as much as it used to be,” said Crittenden, who is currently in her fourth year teaching. “When I was a student, we did not begin taking keyboarding classes until middle school. In elementary school, handwriting and penmanship were emphasized. Cursive handwriting was introduced in the younger grades and often teachers required students to complete assignments in cursive.”

The Common Core Georgia Performance Standards (CCGPS) are part of the Common Core State Standards, state-led academic standards encouraged by the U.S. Department of Education administration and initiated by the National Governor’s Association, co-chaired by Gov. Sonny Perdue, and the council of Chief State School Officers. Georgia formally adopted the set of core standards for students in kindergarten through high school in English language arts, mathematics and grades six through 12 literacy in science, history/social studies, and technical subjects, states the Georgia Department of Education website. The CCGPS provide a consistent framework to prepare students for success in college and the 21st century workplace. 

“Students begin learning to write in kindergarten. They initially start writing and forming letters and then move into writing words. The Common Core standards include cursive handwriting starting in the third grade,” Crittenden said. “Since I am the ELA [English Language Arts] teacher, I do include cursive handwriting in my lessons. This year, my third-grade students have been introduced to cursive, and we have worked on forming upper and lower case cursive letters as well as forming words in cursive. I do not require students to complete assignments in cursive since they are still learning to write legibly in cursive. Students are continuing to develop their cursive handwriting skills.”

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. There is no mention of the need for cursive writing ability. 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.”

Last year, in adopting the common core standards, boards of education in Alabama, California and Georgia included a cursive writing requirement for their public schools.

A National Association of State Boards of Education report released last fall found the average third-grader was getting only 15 minutes of handwriting instruction a day, down from the standard 30 to 45 minutes a generation ago.

“It is very important for students to learn to read and write in cursive, and if they don’t, they have a greater risk of not being successful as an adult,” Crittenden said. “Writing is an important factor in reading skills and comprehension and this includes penmanship. If students are lacking these skills then they have a greater risk of being unsuccessful and unaccomplished.”

For more information about the CCGPS, visit www.doe.k12.ga.us.

CNHI News Service contributed to this report.

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