Lawmakers continue push for cursive instruction in school

Lawmakers continue push for cursive instruction in school

(Ohio) Students in Ohio who are most familiar with texting, keyboarding and printing out their words, would receive cursive instruction under a bill moving through the Legislature.

The bill requires the Ohio State Board of Education to develop and adopt a model curriculum in cursive handwriting instruction by the end of this year, and districts can choose whether or not to implement it.

So far, at least a handful of educational organizations and schools have expressed support for the legislation, noting the benefits of cursive proficiency, which can include improvements in literacy, fine motor skills, as well as increased cognitive development.

“Cursive writing is so much more than just learning how to sign your name to a check,” the bill’s author, Rep. Andrew Brenner, R-Powell, said in a statement. “For example, studies have shown that learning how to write in cursive helps student learn how to spell and read, especially children with dyslexia.”

Indeed, experts have suggested that students with learning disabilities, specifically dyslexia, find writing block print difficult in part because many of the letters look similar–particularly “b” and “d.” Cursive letters, however, look very different from print letters, which can give dyslexic students another option and make them more confident in their abilities.

Research has also linked cursive writing to stronger development of motor skills, because it involves using the hand muscles in a different way and activates a different part of the brain than regular handwriting.

Following years of decline in cursive instruction in favor of the keyboard, policymakers have recently stepped up to promote its resurgence in the classroom. Last year, lawmakers in Illinois passed a bill requiring elementary schools to teach cursive writing starting in the 2018-19 school year and overcame the governor’s veto of the bill.

Both Alabama and Louisiana passed laws in 2016 mandating cursive proficiency in public schools, and New York City schools began encouraging the teaching of cursive to students, generally in the third grade.

Nearly 20 states now require or encourage schools to teach students how to write in cursive between kindergarten and fifth grade.

Such an initiative appears to be well-received in Ohio as well. When the House passed the bill late last month, it was by a vote of 87-4, with support from more than 30 co-sponsors from both sides of the isle, as well as local schools and education groups.

The model curriculum called for under the bill would target students in kindergarten through grade five, and would ensure all students develop the ability to print letters and words legibly by third grade, and then create readable documents using legible cursive handwriting by the end of fifth grade.

The State Board of Education would have to develop the curriculum model for cursive instruction by the end of this year, and the board would then have until the end of March 2019 to decide whether or not to adopt the final model.

Although any district or school would be able to use the curriculum beginning in the 2019-20 school year, they would not be a required to do so.

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