Cursive writing not a priority in schools
By SARAH LUNDGREN The Brunswick News
In a world dominated by computer keyboards and touchscreen keypads, cursive handwriting may be going the way of the manual typewriter.
Neither the Common Core Curriculum, adopted by 45 states, nor the former Georgia Performance Standards for the state's public schools placed much emphasis on learning the looping curves of cursive handwriting.
While handwriting instruction has not been done away with in Glynn County public schools, there has been a big shift in focus on handwriting, in general. Teaching cursive handwriting has not been a requirement for some time in the state, said Ricky Rentz, Glynn County assistant superintendent for student achievement.
"The Georgia Performance Standards (the state curriculum prior to Common Core) didn't include cursive, either. It's kind of fallen by the wayside, more so because writing itself hasn't been a priority," Rentz said. "Even on the (explanatory) writing tests we use, you can print. You don't have to use cursive."
Sung Hui Lewis, a director with the school system, says the reason handwriting has become less important is the pervasiveness of technology. More students are tech-savvy, she says, typing rather than writing.
"In kindergarten, we still stress penmanship, and we've been moving back toward stressing that children write properly," Lewis said.
Though there is no adopted program for teaching cursive handwriting, Lewis says the skills are still embedded in students in different ways at each school.
Some schools practice it during down time prior to lunch, some give assigned homework or require comments in cursive writing on a small reading group story, for example.
In recent years, Lewis and Rentz say educators have noted a stagnation in explanatory writing abilities in Glynn County students, whether expressed through cursive or printing.
Rentz says administrators are working on a literacy plan that will shift focus toward explanatory writing, which could encourage students to develop cursive handwriting skills as a by-product.
"We see (writing) as a weak area in Glynn County. We're not going up or down, there's no growth. So we want to address writing and penmanship. With literacy standards now stressing application, students have to explain and write their answers, and some don't have the ability to express themselves through writing," Rentz said.
* Reporter Sarah Lundgren writes about education and other local topics. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 322.