Cursive handwriting requirement returns to Texas classrooms this fall

Cursive is coming back to Texas classrooms in the fall.

The State Board of Education made the change to bring the traditional penmanship back to Texas schools in 2017, but it goes into implementation for the 2019-2020 school.

The requirement is part of updates to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). It means all second-grade students in the state will need to be proficient in cursive handwriting by the time they leave fourth grade.

For as long as Carolyn Matthews can remember, writing in cursive was an important skill she and her own children learned in school. But when her grandkids recently started elementary school, she noticed a change.

“I realize they’re not getting the writing. They’re more on the computers now, which is great because there’s a lot of information there,” she said. “But it’s still nice to be able to write their names and to be able to write a paragraph and let somebody know how you feel in words.”

Rena Honea is the head of Alliance-AFT, the union that represents many Dallas ISD teachers. She says the skill has been phased out of classrooms over the last several years.

“It just started fading away because keyboarding came in and our computer systems came in,” she said. “The technology part really had a big push.”

Cursive advocates fought for it to be brought back saying the fluid motion enhances hand-eye coordination and helps develop fine motor skills.

During the 2019-2020 school year, second graders will be required to start learning how to write in cursive and then be able to write legibly in cursive to complete assignments by fourth grade.

And though there is some concern it might add another burden for teachers, Honea says it could have major benefits for students who may have learning difficulties.

“When you have cursive, you have a flow of the letters. One that goes from one to the other,” she said. “It helps with comprehension. It helps in taking notes. It helps in memory.”

Parents are on board with the idea of cursive making a comeback, too.

“I think it’s good. Nothing wrong with learning something new,” said Cintia Granados. “It’s just like learning another language. You have to get used to it.”

The new requirements were made in 2017, but they don’t go into effect until September 2019.