Texas will reintroduce cursive writing to the state curriculum for elementary students beginning in the 2019-2020 school year.
Second graders will learn how to write cursive letters, and third graders will be expected to "write complete words, thoughts, and answers legibly in cursive writing leaving appropriate spaces between words," according to the updated Texas Education Code. By the time they reach the fourth grade, students will be required to write legibly and complete assignments in cursive.
The State Board of Education modified the "English Language Arts and Reading" section of Texas’ standard education requirements, known as Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills or TEKS in 2017, reported WCNC. The list of updated curriculum requirements, including the instruction of cursive writing, will be implemented in Texas schools beginning in September 2019.
Diane Schallert, a professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, compared learning cursive to learning a new language. Schallert, who studies how language and learning coincide, told WCNC that requiring students to learn cursive can help children grow their comprehension skills.
"With language comprehension, there's this reciprocity between producing and comprehending," Schallert said. "By seeing the letter being formed slowly at your control, you're considering its sound-symbol correspondence."
While the psychology professor sees the value in learning cursive at a young age, admitting that she herself began to write in cursive as a first grader, Schallert added that adjusting a statewide curriculum can be challenging. If teachers are required to teach cursive, there is less time available to instruct students on other subjects.
"There's only so much time in the day," Schallert said. "Whatever you decide to put into the curriculum, you're deciding to take something out. It's a big decision to decide to exclude it or include it. That's hard."
The majority of school districts in the state currently do not teach students how to write in cursive. Beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, elementary school students in every Texas school district will be instructed in cursive writing.