May 17, 2019

states that require cursive writing

Is there a comeback of cursive? Well, there are 14, now 21, states in the U.S.A. (as of 2020) which still require students to learn to write in cursive handwriting.

The art of penmanship, aka Cursive, can be dated to as early as the 1850s in the United States.

The United States of America’s Declaration of Independence, which helped form our nation, is written in Cursive. All of the names of its creators are also handwritten.

Over the years, technological advancements have seen this writing method become forgotten in history as schools increasingly emphasize keyboarding.

In 2016, Louisiana and Alabama became part of 14 states that require cursive writing to be taught in schools. And in 2018-2019, we counted five additional states where cursive is now required:

  • Arizona
  • Indiana
  • Illinois
  • Massachusetts
  • Ohio

While some educators argue that Cursive is no longer necessary, you may ask – how many schools still teach cursive? The answer is more complicated than a simple no or yes.

Yes, there are states that do and don’t require it. However, most states that don’t mandate cursive in the curriculum still allow schools and districts to teach it, if they desire. The controversy is that, if not required, will schools manage to fit the subject in with all of the other lessons taught?

While we can’t answer that question objectively, we have compiled data on every single state that requires cursive in one style of font or another — updated for 2020.

14 21 States that Require Cursive Writing (Updated for 2020)

states that require cursive

Alabama

Grade Taught: Cursive is taught before the end of the 3rd grade.

General Info: The local school boards conduct the assessment in Alabama. Cursive content tested includes letter case writing and the writing knowledge of learners in the 2nd grade and 3rd grade respectively.

Arizona

Grade Taught: No specific instructions seem to be given, except that cursive should be taught during elementary school years and mastered by the 5th grade.

General Info: It seems as though the current standards have been amended, not abolished. This change now mandates the need for cursive writing in all Arizona public schools.

Arkansas

Grade Taught: Cursive is taught before the end of 3rd grade.

General Info: According to the Arkansas law, cursive assessment is done locally. Testing on letter case writing is done (essentially how neat the writing is) in the 2nd grade. IN the 3rd grade, the learners writing knowledge is tested.

Delaware

Grade Taught: learners are taught cursive proficiency before the end of either the 2nd grade or the 3rd grade.

General Info: Standards on cursive writing are yet be developed. However, in 2017, there was a bill introduced ion the Delaware House.

Florida

Grade Taught: Cursive is taught at the beginning of the 3rd grade to the end of the 5th grade.

General Info: According to Florida standards, learners assessment of cursive proficiency is done locally. In the 3rd grade, testing is conducted on the introduction to Cursive while in the 4th grade, their writing skills are tested. In the 5th grade, both the letter case writing and the cursive writing skills are tested.

Georgia

Grade Taught: Cursive is taught in the 3rd and 4th grade.

General Info: Local bodies conduct the assessment. Testing requirements on cursive proficiency includes their writing skills and the formatting of letters during the writing process in the 3rd grade and 4th grade respectively.

Illinois

Grade Taught: Handwriting in cursive is to be taught before the end of the fifth grade.

General Info: Cursive in Illinois is a contested subject. In fact, the state’s congress overturned a veto from the governor in order to require cursive. You can find more about local opinions in this piece by NPR

Indiana (New Update!)

Grade Taught: House Bill 1640, isn’t too specific, other than “elementary school” is when cursive is part of the curriculum. However, it is now required.

General Info: The legislation for Indiana is very recent (dated April of 2019). If you go to the bill itself, you can search the document, but we’ve taken a screenshot showing the exact place it lists cursive (page 30, line 14 of the bill).

states that require cursive

Kentucky

Grade Taught: cursive testing is not defined.

General Info: Cursive learning lacks a backing state statute since the writing method has not been used before. However, deliberations are being made to incorporate cursive in the state curriculum.

Louisiana

Grade Taught: Beginning in 2017, cursive learning begins in the 3rd grade. In the 4th grade to the end of the 12th grade, it is taught and embedded into the school curriculum.

General Info: Testing on cursive proficiency is done in the 3rd grade and the 4th grade. Additional Regulations governing cursive writing were implemented on the 1st of July 2017

Maryland

Grade Taught: Cursive learning starts at the 2nd grade to the 5th grade.

General Info: Local bodies do learner’s assessment. The curriculum dictates that testing for the 2nd grade will be on letter formation, case writing. From the 3rd grade to the 5th grade, testing is done on the ability to create a final cursive written document that is readable. There is a great deal of debate about the subject.

Massachussets

Grade Taught: Cursive writing is taught in the 3rd grade across the state of Massachusetts and students are supposed to be able to write legibly in cursive by the 5th grade.

General Info: Massachusetts has required cursive for quite some time, even though (as in most states) it is a well-debated topic.

Mississippi

Grade Taught: Cursive is taught from the 2nd grade to the 8th grade as required by a very short bill.

General Info: Educators conduct the assessment. Local body testes its learners on the cursive application in real life situations such as in publishing of text and their readability.

North Carolina

Grade Taught: Cursive is taught prior completion of the fifth grade in North Carolina.

General Info: Local bodies do learner’s assessment. Pupils in the 3rd grade are examined on their proficiency to generate understandable letters in Cursive. In the 4th grade, learners are considered on their ability to develop explicit content on text editing computer programs. The 5th grade combines previously acquired knowledge and tests on letter structuring, word and sentence formation and the use of computer programs used in text editing to generate cursive textual messages.

Ohio

Grade Taught: Technically, schools in Ohio aren’t “required” to teach cursive writing. That said, handwriting is required and there are provided materials to include cursive in the curriculum. Largely, the decision is up to local school districts.

General Info: Schools in Ohio do typically teach (either in whole or part) cursive writing. However, it is not a state mandate for every school to teach this style of writing.

Oklahoma

Grade Taught: In a recent comeback, cursive is taught in the 4th and 5th grades.

General Info: Any institution does not conduct learners assessment; hence, there lack adequate cursive examination measures in place. Pupils are however taught on the formation of text in the 3rd and 4th grade. Thereon, learners are expected to review previously learned materials to enable adequate understanding of concepts.

South Carolina

Grade Taught: Cursive is taught prior completion of the 5th grade.

General Info: On enactment of the governing regulations in 2010, cursive writing began to be examined. In the 2nd grade, a pupil’s ability to form cursive letters is reviewed. In the 3rd grade, casing and letter structuring are tested. The 4th grade and the 5th-grade test on how to use prior knowledge in word formation. Learners are tested on sentence formations and all the acquired knowledge in the previous grades from the 6th grade to the 8th grade.

Tennessee

Grade Taught: According to state law, cursive learning is in different grades is determined the education state board.

General Info: Pupils in this state were learning Cursive before the state officially adopted the regulation. Students have tested on cursive proficiency in letter casing identification in printouts the 2nd grade. In the 3rd grade, they are tested on the creation of text in different cases. Creating readable publications in Cursive is tested in both the 4th grade and the 5th grade.

Texas

Grade Taught: In a very recent development, cursive proficiency starts from the 2nd grade and ends in the 3rd grade.

General Info: Local bodies do learner’s assessment. Examination of learners in the 3rd grade covers letter and word structuring. In the third grade, pupils are tested on their application of Cursive in constructing a text.

Virginia

Grade Taught: Cursive learning begins in the 2nd grade and ends in the 5th grade, but it has come under scrutiny.

General Info: Local bodies do learner’s assessment. Prior adoption of cursive regulations in the other states, Virginia had functional cursive laws. Testing of learners begins in the 2nd grade where letter structuring is examined. In the 3rd grade, the ability of the learner to construct readable cursive text is tested.

West Virginia

Grade Taught: Cursive learning starts in the 2nd grade and ends in the 4th grade.

General Info: Local bodies do learner’s assessment. While not law, there have been recent attempts at legislation. Testing of learner’s proficiency begins with letter formation in the 2nd grade, sentence construction and formatting in the 3rd grade and the ability to make a clear cursive textual message in the 4th grade.

State Not on the List?

If you didn’t find your location on the list, that’s ok! 

You can still teach your children (or yourself). It’s easy to do. You may want to weigh the pros and cons, but if you decide cursive is something you want to explore, we hope you’ll find our resources helpful.

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Lela McGlynn

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