MANOR, Texas (KXAN) — Cursive writing has fallen away from the curriculum in a lot of Texas schools in recent years, but the writing style is making a comeback.
Austin ISD does not teach cursive to its general student body, but the district says that will change in the 2019-2020 school year, as it will for schools all over the state. The shift is due to updates to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, or TEKS, for language arts. The State Board of Education changed the requirements in 2017, and they go into effect next school year.
Starting this fall, students will be required to know how to write legibly in cursive by 5th grade. Kids will start learning cursive letters in 2nd grade.
But even the districts that cut cursive classes have kept teaching it to students with dyslexia. Manor ISD’s dyslexia coordinator says it stimulates brain function, helps with memory, and allows students to focus on whole words instead of individual letters.
“Say they wanted to write the word ‘magenta,’ and they weren’t able to get it,” Tori Linzenmeyer said. “They might just write ‘red.’ And cursive helps them have a flow of ideas; it’s more streamlined, with less stopping in between.'”
Austin ISD literacy specialist and dyslexia therapist Suzann Vera wrote in an email to KXAN she’s a “proponent of teaching cursive to all students” as a way to develop better handwriting and making writing easier to master.
“As children are being encouraged to write earlier,” she wrote, “some are learning quickly to replicate letters but not being taught about how to form the letters.”
Still, there’s a lot of debate among parents about whether cursive is necessary to learn. Many have not used the style in adult life — or even since they left elementary school.
A viewer who says she’s a “recently retired” teacher, wrote on KXAN’s Facebook page that most of the work her students turned in toward the end of her career was done electronically. “We do not live in a pen and paper world any longer,” she said.
Linzenmeyer believes there needs to be more balance between technology and physical writing, and not just for students with dyslexia.
“Strong writers,” she said, “become strong readers.”