Utah schools board wants to preserve cursive writing

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 11:35 AM


SALT LAKE CITY -- The state school board is taking steps to include the teaching of cursive writing and handwriting as part of Utah's education standards.

The Utah State Board of Education voted unanimously Friday to recommend that handwriting and cursive be taught in schools, something that's not currently required or included in the curriculum guidelines called "Common Core Standards," which Utah has adopted.

Utah and 45 other states have moved to adopt the curriculum guidelines, which are a national effort to replace patchwork standards across the country with uniform benchmarks for students. They include requirements for students to learn keyboarding skills by the end of elementary school.

As young people grow up in a world increasingly dependent on technology, educators and others have been debating the value of teaching handwriting skills or cursive writing.

Many states that have adopted the core standards are reviewing their handwriting requirements, but others have already ruled it's important to keep teaching the skills.

California, Georgia and Massachusetts have all moved to keep cursive in their curriculum, and an effort is underway in Idaho take similar steps.

The Utah school board approved the issue following a report from a committee created last year to study the issue.

The board's recommendation, which would require instruction in cursive by the third grade, is open to public comment before the school board takes a final vote on the matter. If the board doesn't ultimately adopt it, schools will not be prevented from teaching it on their own.

Utah schools were previously required to teach handwriting and cursive, but it's now optional.

Dixie Allen, one of the board members who served on the study committee, said research shows teaching handwriting and cursive boosts students' reading and spelling skills, according to The Deseret News.

"We've resoundingly found that there is some real important, research-based information that cursive handwriting does help," Allen said.

Tiffany Hall, a literacy coordinator with the state education office, said the committee felt students would be better off by learning those handwriting skills, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

"We feel like that's a skill being lost in our society," Hall said. "Students have less and less ability to read cursive writing."

Sign up for e-mail news updates.