1 February 2010 04:34 PM

Handwriting Standards

by Dr. Rick

Our latest guest blogger is a respected old friend, Emily Levitt.  Emily's an educator with lots of experience teaching writing.  She's taught middle schoolers, worked for education companies like McGraw Hill, Scranton, Plato Learning, Sylvan Learning, and Handwriting Without Tears, where she's now a Senior Curriculum Designer.


Emily is a member of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), the International Dyslexia Association (IDA), and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD).  She received a B.A. in Secondary English Education from the University of Maryland, College Park, and an M.S. in Professional Writing from Towson University.


Handwriting Standards


If a successful student moves to a new state, will she still be considered an achiever under the new school’s expectations?  The Common Core State Standards initiative is designed to level the playing field for all students, no matter where they live.


This groundbreaking initiative is notable for two reasons: it represents unprecedented cooperation among the members of the National Governors Association, and it has the potential to change what—and even how—all American children learn in the future.  So far, 51 states and U.S. territories have pledged their support to this movement.


This is also the perfect opportunity to standardize subject areas that have sometimes been overlooked.  Handwriting is a skill that needs to be included in the new Common Standards.


Even in the age of computers and texting, you may be surprised to learn that 85% of all fine motor skill activity in second-, fourth-, and sixth-grade classrooms was spent on pencil and paper activities.  Students who struggle to get legible words onto the paper will take longer to finish assignments.  This struggle also creates a larger burden on students’ working memory, because the brain works twice as hard. The student has to manage letter and word construction while simultaneously forming a response to the question on the worksheet or quiz.  Students who have fluent, automatic handwriting can focus on the question, which gives them an advantage.


Currently, if state handwriting standards exist at all, they are limited to one: “produces legible handwriting.”  When students fail to meet this standard, teachers have no way to examine which skills are lacking, or a way to help.  Adding more detailed standards will ensure that students to receive support on the most often-used motor skill in grades two through six.  It will also help our kids develop fluid, automatic writing that can enable them to focus on the lesson instead of the blank sheet of paper.





Add comment


  • Comment
  • Preview

Blog Posting Rules

This blog is for the good of education - for students, for teachers and for parents. I very much value a two-way communication with you and welcome and encourage your comments and feedback. However, to facilitate a constructive conversation that is beneficial to everyone in this online community, I expect the same respect in your comments that I present in my blog.

Read the full Dr. Rick Blog Posting Rules.