Though new federal standards have pushed a focus on keyboarding skills above cursive handwriting, local education leaders say penmanship has always been and will remain a major priority in area schools.
Set to take effect next year, the new federal common core education standards require proficiency in computer keyboarding by the fourth grade, but do not mention the need for cursive writing ability. A total of 45 states, including Alabama, have adopted the new standards, which are meant to shift the focus toward preparing students to use new and existing technologies.
Local educators say penmanship will remain a key component in elementary curriculum, though they will of course continue to teach typing skills, as well.
National surveys show handwriting is receiving less and less focus in area classrooms, and Cullman City Schools Superintendent Dr. Jan Harris said that shift has mostly occurred because of a relentless focus on standardized testing at the state and federal level.
“We believe in teaching cursive handwriting and both of our elementary schools do that,” she said. “But, I’d be the first to note we are in the midst of this national standards movement, and as a result some objectives we’ve wanted to focus on as educators the past few years have moved lower on the list of priorities due to the accountability of testing. I believe most educators would agree, and cursive handwriting probably falls in that category to a certain degree. Of course, keyboarding is equally important and I believe it’s a very important skill.”
Cullman County Board of Education Superintendent Billy Coleman said cursive handwriting would also still be taught across the county system, though keyboarding will continue to grow as a priority.
“I think good handwriting is still a priority, but I understand we live in a society of computers and typing skills are very important,” Coleman said. “But cursive writing is still an important part of our society, and I still believe there is a place for cursive writing. We absolutely still place a priority on that and we’ll continue to place a priority on that.”
Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.