07/20/11 The old phrase “the handwriting is on the wall” may read as a foreign language to Indiana students in the near future. The Indiana Department of Education has now joined some 41 other states that have adopted new standards that do not include the mandatory teaching of cursive (script) writing. Instead, cursive writing is now being replaced by keyboarding classes.
According to a memorandum sent to pubic schools by the IDOE, cursive writing and the Common Core State Standards in Indiana’s Academic Standards for English Language Arts still include cursive writing in the 3rd grade. However, The Common Core State Standards encompassing many states do not include cursive writing at all. Instead, students are expected to become proficient with keyboarding skills.
States, such as New York, have already adopted the new Common Core Sate Standards for English which doesn’t include any references to cursive writing. The standards provide a general framework for what today’s students are expected to learn before entering college.
While many educators find themselves scrambling for class time to teach, some argue that teaching cursive is time-consuming and not the way that today’s students communicate.
Others believe that today’s kids need more practice time on the keyboard since many of the ISTEP (Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress) are being done electronically.
However, both Plymouth Shcools and LaVille Schools intend to keep cursive writing in the curricula for at least the next year. Plymouth Superintendent Dan Tyree said, “The memorandum came out way to late to have time to discuss it with our principals and teachers.”
He said he still sees a need for cursive writing. He said, “I don’t believe technology has advanced to the point where it is a substitute for cursive writing.” Tyree does foresee a time when all testing by the state will be online, however.
Plymouth Schools teach cursive writing at the second grade level.
Union-North School Corporation Superintendent Dr. Terry Barker said, “It’s still a skill we want children to have an awareness of and the ability to read.” LaVille Elementary Principal John Farthing said they start teaching writing in the second semester of second grade and follow-up during the first semester of third grade. He too shared Barker’s belief that cursive still needs to be included in lesson plans.
Triton Elementary Principal Jeremy Riffle has made some adjustments to introduce cursive writing in the second grade. Riffle said, “We had been teaching cursive in the third grade, but the teachers tell me that second graders are eager to learn longhand.” He said they are not going to devote a block of instruction time to cursive writing instruction as they do for reading or math. He said, “It will be taught as one of the tools for their “tool belt”.” Riffle said, at this point, they do not intend to give a grade on a report card for penmanship.
Perhaps the biggest change that is in the works is the introduction of keyboarding to first grade students.
Carol Anders Correspondent