Why Don't the Common-Core Standards Include Cursive Writing?
Should schools teach cursive handwriting? The question is an impressively polarizing one in the K-12 education world.
One of the most widely cited criticisms of the Common Core State Standards is that they don't require teaching students to write in cursive.
Some states, such as Tennessee and California, have added cursive to the standards. Louisiana appears to have gone the farthest, mandating that students get instruction in cursive every year from the 3rd through 12th grades.
Proponents of teaching cursive say students need to learn it to be able to read historical documents, such as the U.S. Constitution. Without knowing cursive, students "will be locked out of doing research with literary papers and archival collections," Valerie Hotchkiss, a library director at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, wrote in the Chronicle of Higher Education in 2014. "They will not even be able to read their grandmother's diary or their parents' love letters."
Others say cursive helps students write faster than print, and that they need it to develop a signature.
Technology Took Priority
So why didn't the common-core writers include cursive? In a recent interview, Sue Pimentel, one of the lead writers of the English/language arts standards, explained that the decision was about priorities—and that learning to use technology took precedence.
"We thought that more and more of student communications and adult communications are via technology. And knowing how to use technology to communicate and to write was most critical for students," she said. "The idea is you have to pick things to put in there. .... It really was a discussion."
Anchor standard No. 7 for writing asks students to "produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others."
The decision to exclude cursive was also based on feedback from teachers, according to Pimentel.
"One of the things we heard from teachers around the country—in some cases, obviously not all—was that sometimes cursive writing takes an enormous amount of instructional time," she said. "You could be spending time on other things rather than students practicing cursive writing. It's really a matter of emphasis."
Pimentel points out that the K-5 language standards do require students to "print all upper- and lowercase letters," so it's not as if handwriting is left out of the document entirely. She also notes Why Don't the Common-Core Standards Include Cursive Writing? - Curriculum Matters - Education Week: