Dec 11, 2018 by

“Pertinent Facts About the Teaching of Cursive in Texas Public Schools”

By Donna Garner


Some Texas public school parents and educators are confused about when and if cursive writing is to be taught in Texas public schools based upon the adoption by the elected members of the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) of Texas’ English / Language Arts / Reading (ELAR) curriculum standards (TEKS).

Short answer:  Yes, since 2009, Texas public school educators have been mandated to teach students cursive in Grades 3 and 4. Thus, teachers in Grades 5 – 12 should expect their students to be able to write and read cursive.

However, the teaching/learning of cursive in Grades 3 and 4 in most schools has not been emphasized; and teachers in Grades 5 – 12 have not been able to hold their students accountable for its use. The end result is that, unfortunately, the majority of Texas public school students in school right now cannot read nor write in cursive.


Because of the outcry from the public and from those on the SBOE who felt strongly about the need for cursive, the “new” ELAR/TEKS (adopted in 2017 with implementation in K-8 to begin in the fall of 2019) have a much stronger emphasis on the teaching of cursive and on its use in the succeeding grade levels. Notice the differences between the “old” standards and the “new” standards:

ELAR/TEKS ADOPTED IN MAY 2008 – IMPLEMENTED IN 2009 (“old” standards in place right now):

“The standards are cumulative–students will continue to address earlier standards as needed while they attend to standards for their grade.”

Grade 3: (A)  write legibly in cursive script with spacing between words in a sentence;

Grade 4:  (A)  write legibly by selecting cursive script or manuscript printing as appropriate;

[In the “old” standards, I could find no more explicit requirements about cursive after Grade 4.]


ELAR/TEKS ADOPTED IN 2017 – TO BE IMPLEMENTED IN K-8 IN FALL OF 2019 – GRADES 9-12 IN FALL OF 2020 (a.k.a., “new” standards)

*Notice how much stronger the statements about cursive are in the “new” standards than in the “old” standards. Texas public school students will be required to learn cursive and to be able to use cursive Grades 2 – 12. 

“The standards are cumulative–students will continue to address earlier standards as needed while they attend to standards for their grade.”

The new ELAR/TEKS state that the student is expected to:

Grade 2 – (E)  develop handwriting by accurately forming all uppercase and lowercase letters using appropriate directionality.

Grade 3 — (D)  write complete words, thoughts, and answers legibly in cursive leaving appropriate spaces between words.

Grade 4 — (C)  write legibly in cursive to complete assignments.

Grade 5 — (C)  write legibly in cursive.


ACTION STEP:  Once the fall of 2019 gets here, It will be up to the parents and the public to hold educators in Grades 2-5 accountable to transition into the “new” ELAR/TEKS which do require the teaching and learning of cursive in Grades 2 – 12.


Here is the link to the Texas Education Agency’s website on which the 2009 – 2010 ELAR/TEKS (a.k.a., “old”) curriculum standards (TEKS) and the 2017 ELAR/TEKS (a.k.a., “new”) are posted.  The “new” ELAR/TEKS are to be implemented in K-8 in the fall of 2019 with 9-12 to be implemented in the fall of 2020:

Donna Garner

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1 Comment

  1. It’s kind of ridiculous that Texas has its own curriculum standards — as if Texans were never going to leave the state, nor outsiders were ever going to enter. Of course, if Texas’s curriculum were obviously of higher standard than that of other jurisdictions, one might reasonably make it an exception, as leading the way; but Texas is very far from having led anyone in a useful direction in education (including, especially, the disastrous Texas innovation of No Child Left Behind). A good example is this “new” standard with respect to cursive handwriting: this is its approach towards innovation? Legible handwriting is of course to be taught, and there is nothing wrong with children learning cursive; but really, this is the kind of issue Texans get worked up about, with so many new threats from artificial intelligence and robots, for example, appearing now?

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