TWIN FALLS • When students turn in a handwritten assignment at Xavier Charter School, they know it has to be in cursive.
In an era when some schools don’t teach the style of handwriting anymore, it’s still part of the curriculum at the Twin Falls public charter school.
“We actively teach it in third and fourth grade as a subject,” said Xavier co-founder and lead teacher Becky Baird.
Xavier — which has students in kindergarten through 12th grades — uses a European, classical model of education.
Baird said the school keeps cursive in the curriculum because “it is truly an art form” and a valuable discipline for students.
State Rep. Linden Bateman, R-Idaho Falls, wants all Idaho elementary schools to follow suit. He introduced a measure Tuesday in the House Education Committee that would ask the State Board of Education to adopt a rule requiring the teaching of cursive handwriting.
Right now, it’s up to each school district to decide whether to teach cursive.
In south-central Idaho, many districts — including Twin Falls, Kimberly, Jerome and Wendell — continue to teach it to students starting in third grade.
Cursive isn’t included in the new national curriculum guidelines called “Common Core Standards,” but students are expected to receive keyboarding instruction by the time they leave elementary school.
Idaho is among 45 states slated to adopt the more rigorous standards during the 2014 school year.
At Kimberly Elementary, Principal Craig Maki said it’s a school philosophy that students still need to know how to write in cursive and be able to read documents in that style of handwriting.
Teresa Jones, principal at Horizon Elementary in Jerome, said cursive is still taught. But there’s much less emphasis on it than in past years.
That’s because so many things have been added to the curriculum over the last few years, she said.
Wendell Elementary Principal Kevin Rogers said it’s hard to fit in cursive lessons since teachers are focusing on core subject areas such as English and math.
“One of the difficulties we have is to find the time to continually practice a lot,” he said.
That’s something Buhl teachers don’t have to worry about. Cursive isn’t taught anymore at Buhl Elementary.
Superintendent Byron Stutzman said students learn handwriting skills, but instruction focuses on printing.
At Xavier, Baird said some students find it easier and faster to take notes in class using cursive.
“Even when it’s not required, some of them choose to,” she said.
Baird said students are going to type papers as they advance to higher grade levels, but there’s still a need for legible handwriting.
In the Twin Falls School District, elementary schoolers use cursive for some creative writing assignments.
By the time students get to high school, they use it occasionally for assignments turned in during the day, said Elementary Programs Director Ted Popplewell.
However, virtually all larger projects in high school are completed using a computer.
Popplewell described himself as an “old-school person” who likes cursive and understands its importance.
He recalls teaching cursive as a classroom teacher and is interested to see what will happen to the form of handwriting over the next 10 years.