It's not just the "really pretty" script that draws McKinley Elementary School third-grader Alexia Holcomb to cursive writing.

"It makes you strong in your hands," the 9-year-old said as she clutches her pencil tightly and practices writing words in her workbook in the Davenport classroom.

Her classmate, Xavier Overton, also 9, was not as enthusiastic.

"It's hard," he said.

Their teacher, Karen Tallman, works with the kids for about 20 to 30 minutes a day on their cursive writing skills.

“It’s something that they look forward to, and it’s something that’s a challenge,” Tallman said. “Although it doesn’t have that importance as does reading comprehension and math, it helps with their fine motor skills.”

Cursive writing is a subject that is still taught in many schools around the country, as well as the Quad-Cities.

But someday, cursive writing may be erased completely from U.S. schools.

“Folks are seeing less and less of a real need for it in the real world,” said Jeff Zoul, assistant superintendent of the Rock Island-Milan School District. “We’re talking about college and career readiness all the time as educators. I don’t know that many of us see a huge place for cursive writing in college and the career-world anymore.”

Illinois and Iowa are two of 45 states to adopt the Common Core State Standards, which cuts cursive writing from the English curriculum.

As standards change and more courses are added to districts, cursive writing seems to be the choice to cut back on, said Chuck Hyser, director of education at Augustana College.

“There’s now at least twice as much stuff in the curriculum per grade level, so there’s less time to focus on cursive writing,” he said. “It’s causing us to do it more superficially than to teach it in depth.”

Schools in the Davenport Community School District focus on "manuscript" writing in kindergarten and teach cursive writing to third-graders, said Beth Evans, the district's language arts and reading curriculum specialist.

Teachers will spend 10 or 15 minutes going over the letters each day and give students five or 10 minutes of practice, Evans said.

"We want them to understand the formation of those letters and be able to read them," she said. "Having to make very fluid strokes helps with their fine motor skills."

By the fourth grade, students are taking keyboarding lessons; cursive writing is monitored but is not given an official grade, she said.

Evans said she can still see the value in knowing how to write and read cursive writing, especially when students have to analyze historical documents, most of which are written in cursive.

Hyser agreed that learning cursive writing can help in reading historical texts. Today, however, most people have encountered so many different types of text that kids have become very flexible and adept at reading it.

Zoul said schools in his district still teach cursive writing, but it's left up to the schools as to how they want to teach it.

Some teachers also will try to incorporate cursive writing practice with other lessons, such as vocabulary or spelling.

Zoul said that as curriculum standards change, the district is teaching more keyboarding and spending less time on cursive writing.

There is still a lot of work to be done, he said.

“As we decrease our focus in one area, we have to increase our focus on another,” he said. “We’ve certainly made great strides in our district and are constantly trying to find ways to provide (technology) to every school in the district.”

Zoul said he would like to see a one-on-one initiative, which would provide an iPad to each student in the district.

Zoul added that new state testing likely will become electronic in the future, he said.

(9) comments


Thank you for the compliment KJ23.I don't comment often but when I do it is on a topic I am passionate about and I want my comments to be thoughtful and thought-provoking. I have a friend in Australia I first got to know as a Pen Pal in elementary school.We have visited one another and shared stories of good times and bad. We never email except in matters of great urgency.I look forward to those letters from half-way around the world from her with the unique stamps as much as I did while growing up.Her handwriting by the way is terrible,,but it is worth every moment it takes to decipher it knowing the time she spent writing to me.There is no "cc" in a handwritten letter.

pta mom

The schools do not teach cursive--some schools briefly touch on the subject, but it is not taught as a discipline/art form in any school. Very sad, because kids love cursive writing. NCLB is at the base of so much beauty being cut from the classroom. Cursive writing cannot be standardized tested. And teachers are otherwise so busy teaching children to fill in correct dots, they have no time to bring art and inspiration into the class.


I know I had to sign, not print my income tax forms this year like always is this gonna be a thing of the past and/or driver license. And my adult children are still to send thankyous to relatives for anything that relative has done nice for them, I hope they can sign their name and not a number so the relative/friend knows who they are


I believe, as the grandmother of 4 grandchildren, that writing and READING cursive is an art form. The only way that we will be able to interpret the thoughts of our predecessors is if we can read their writing, and I believe that people show a lot of their personality by their handwriting.


Great post outdoorsgirl. Technology is great, but it tends to make people lazy and dependent on it. I bet a lot of kids can't read a street map, unless it has gps and a voice talking to them.


I agree with Style.Our signature is another aspect of our being that makes us unique,helps present us as an individual.People will argue that it's almost impossible to read the cursive writing in historic documents such as The Bill of Rights or The Declaration of Independence, so the inability to read them isn't a great loss. One can still find these documents in printed text if one needs to know what is in them.But what if you want to find out more about your own family's past? Your ancestors didn't write emails.How will the children of tomorrow be able to read those letters and documents of long ago that hold the keys to the mystery of "who am I ?" No longer will we have the simple handwritten thank you note,or personal message on a sympathy card that means more to the person receiving it than the one sending it can imagine. Why stop with cursive? Why learn math when we have calculators? Why learn to spell when there is spellcheck? Why learn to read a map when there is GPS?
Why learn geography when you have google maps? What about science or history? If you aren't going to make this your career,why learn it ?We teach these subjects because this knowledge is the thing that makes us aware,and hopefully hungy for more knowledge.Eliminating cursive,like eliminating art and music from school curriculums is one more act chipping away at what makes us human and not machines.


Our 8th grade grandson couldn't even sign his name. How do they deal with situations that require a signature? Do the put an "X"?


if your 8th grade grandson cant sign his name in cursive that is HIS own fault, at this point the schools still teach it. I am also sure that if he couldnt sign his name by jr. high that his parents should of sat with him (or you too) to help him with it. Give me a break!

Family man

Makes sense. The only time I was ever asked to turn something in in cursive was in school. Seems like a lot of time wasted on something that has no practical application.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.