As Branford schools ramp up efforts to bolster keyboard skills for 21st century computer-based learning, one parent says students are failing to learn a very old-fashioned, yet important skill: cursive writing.
The discussion arose during the Branford Board of Education (BOE) meeting on Sept. 18. The parent’s comment came on the heels of a comprehensive explanation, by Superintendent of Schools Hamlet Hernandez , of how the schools are helping students tackle “keyboarding” in order to be prepared for comprehensive learning with computer-based resources.
Parent Nicole Cipriano asked if the town is even teaching kids how to write and read cursive anymore. Assistant Superintendent of Schools Mary Peraro explained that cursive is part of the third-grade curriculum. The Sound checked into it and confirmed with Branford Public Schools (BPS) that cursive is covered in an area described as “penmanship” on the third-grade curriculum. The BPS third-grade curriculum is posted with this story.
Cipriano begged to differ with Peraro, saying children have not been taught comprehensive cursive writing in third grade year in Branford for years. She worried that students won’t be able to sign checks, contracts or read notes, if written in cursive, from those including employers. Later in the meeting, BOE member Michael Krause commented that he was also concerned that today’s students are not being taught how to read and write in cursive.
Cipriano later told The Sound the problem seems to be emerging as a national trend, citing one recent description which gave the scenario of today’s kids not being able to read their grandparents’ love-letters.
The Sound later with Superintendent Hernandez regarding the question raised by Cipriano during the BOE meeting –is cursive writing being taught to Branford’s third graders?
“The teachers have discretion,” said Hernandez. “It’s part of the third grade curriculum, but it is not assessed. It is certainly something teachers do with their class, but it’s not carried through with a grade.”
When it comes to choosing cursive or block lettering as a form of handwritten expression, students will “…default to their preferred means of writing,” he said.
For more than two years, BPS has been gearing up for the transition to the new Common Core standards, which will kick in with the 2014-15 school year. The standards are meant to focus student learning so that, by graduation, they are aligned with national college and work expectations. Research and evidence-based learning of rigorous content, with applications of knowledge through 21st century skills -- including computer-based learning and test-taking -- are major tenants of the new standards.