hand•writ•ing [hand-rahy-ting] noun

  1. writing by hand with a pen or pencil
  2. a person’s particular style of writing


  1. printing (manuscript)
  2. cursive
  3. penmanship

Can You Imagine a World Without Handwriting?

New Developments

On January 23, 2012, researchers and education thought leaders convened in Washington D.C. for Handwriting in the 21st Century? An Educational Summit to discuss research and opinions regarding the role of handwriting instruction in the 21st century classroom. (Watch videos of the researchers' presentations to learn more.) Since the Summit, a major shift in focus has occurred about the importance of this foundational skill for today's students. New developments, both nationally and regionally, include the following:

National Level

  • Dr. Virginia Berninger, professor of educational psychology at the University of Washington, offers a response to NASBE’s handwriting policy update in a Commentary piece from March 25, 2013. The Commentary—Educating Students in the Computer Age to Be Multilingual by Hand—makes the case for including handwriting (both cursive and manuscript) and keyboarding instruction in the curriculum.
  • The National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) released a policy update in September of 2012 that examined the role of handwriting and its instruction in schools today. The update also carefully examined the pros and cons of the debate, particularly in light of research.

State Level

  • In March of 2014, a bill requiring Tennessee schools to teach cursive received overwhelming bipartisan support by the state legislature.
  • On March 18, 2014, a bill requiring South Carolina students to learn cursive by fifth grade advanced in the House and has been sent to the full Education Committee.
  • On February 18, 2014, the Florida Board of Education voted unanimously to approve an amendment to the state standards requiring cursive handwriting instruction in grades 3-5.
  • On December 10, 2013, the Kansas State Board of Education unanimously (10-0) approved new handwriting standards for public schools, requiring students to learn cursive.
  • On June 13, 2013, Pat McCrory, governor of North Carolina, signed the “Back to Basics” legislation into law, making cursive handwriting instruction a requirement in N.C. elementary schools (the law will take effect in the 2013–2014 school year).
  • On June 7, 2013, the Utah State Board of Education gave its approval to add both manuscript and cursive handwriting to the state’s elementary English language arts core standards.
  • On February 28, 2013, Idaho legislature overwhelmingly passed a measure that directs the State Board of Education to require cursive handwriting in Idaho elementary schools.
  • In February of 2013, the Indiana Senate voted to advance a “cursive bill” requiring schools to teach cursive writing. This bill reverses a 2011 decision by the State Board of Education that made teaching cursive optional.
  • In July of 2012, Georgia incorporated handwriting standards into their curricula that now require students' proficiency in cursive handwriting.
  • Prior to the Summit, Massachusetts and California amended their Common Core State Standards with handwriting requirements.

Handwriting and Keyboarding Standards

Summit attendees overwhelmingly agreed that both handwriting and keyboarding deserve serious attention. The HW21 Community created a set of Written-Language Production Standards for Grades K–8 that could be helpful for any education decision makers looking to supplement their Common Core State Standards.