Arizona schools now required to teach cursive handwriting

Students practice both printing and cursive handwriting skills in the six to nine year old's classroom at the Mountaineer Montessori School in Charleston, W.Va. Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2009. (AP Photo/Bob Bird)

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona will require public schools to teach cursive handwriting as one of a number of new education standards approved by the state Board of Education.

The move amends the state’s current standards, which are based on federal guidelines known as the Common Core. Common Core has become a politicized topic and state Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas campaigned on a promise to replace it.

“We now have new standards that have been worked on by Arizona teachers, parents and been vetted by anti-Common Core experts,” said Douglas.

In addition to requiring students to have mastered cursive by the fifth grade, the revisions also require lessons about time and money in early grades. They also add a “foundational writing skills strand” for kindergarten through third grade that will have the students learn how to spell the most frequently used words.

The changes also set standards for high-school-level math courses that are not required for graduation.

Fourty-eight percent of the Common Core standards on language arts and 40 percent of the Common Core standards on math were revised, according to the Board of Education. Douglas said the changes were designed to clarify rules and give teachers and school boards more flexibility.

The new standards also remove a requirement that 70 percent of high school reading material be “informational,” while 30 percent is “literary.” That requirement was arbitrary and inappropriate, according to a staff summary of the changes.

“Has every word changed? No. Should every word change? No. If a kindergartner should count from 1 to 100, they should count from 1 to 100. I don’t care who wrote the standards. . You keep what’s important,” said Douglas.

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