The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

April 5, 2013

Oklahoma standards still require cursive be taught

By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer

ENID, Okla. — While schools in other states might be dropping cursive handwriting from their curriculum, Oklahoma standards still require it and local school officials say it will be taught.

“It is in our current standards, starting in grade three and continuing through grade four, grade six, grade seven and grade eight,” said Tricia Pemberton, senior communications specialist for the Oklahoma Department of Education. “I don’t know that it’s emphasized as much as it used to be.”

Beverly James, principal at Adams Elementary School, questioned how much longer handwriting will be used in a computer-based society.

“I don’t know how many things I have done recently when I’ve had to sign a document,” James said. “Many of them I’m not even able to sign.”

James said she can’t say she likes it that so many things are “signed” on a computer nowadays.

“It makes me nervous if we do it that way, because how can anyone verify your signed signature?” James said.

Even her most recent mortgage loan paperwork was completely done on computer, James said. No signature to write.

“I think cursive writing will always be an important skill, but as we prepare students for the future, we must assess how we teach it, as with all skills,” James said. “Under common core, it will continue to be an integrated component as we focus on other skills like critical thinking, literacy and written expression.”

Roydon Tilley, superintendent of Chisholm Schools, said students in his district now are being taught cursive handwriting in second grade, because the shift to common core curriculum has meant the addition of so many concepts to third grade.

“We felt like we needed to move it to second grade because we had too much in third grade,” Tilley said.

Next year, Chisholm teachers for grades three through eight will not teach cursive, Tilley said.

“Next year, we’ll only do it in second grade,” Tilley said.

Ruth Ann Erdner, assistant superintendent of Enid Public Schools, said some Enid elementary schools are beginning cursive writing during the second semester of second grade. EPS will continue to teach cursive in the foreseeable future, Erdner said.

“It is still an important part of teaching and learning,” Erdner said.

Cursive is taught across the curriculum, Erdner said.

“If you are teaching the letters of the alphabet, you can integrate that,” Erdner said. “It’s also part of your reading curriculum.”

Doug Stafford, principal of Emerson Middle School, said he believes handwriting is important for cognitive development, but computer skills also are important.

“I still think it’s important that it’s addressed,” Stafford said. “Obviously, we are going to a digital society, but I still think it’s important to develop handwriting skills.”