The Arizona Board of Education has instituted several revisions of the state's schooling standards, including the mandatory teaching of cursive handwriting in grade school. The new tweaks have arrived after Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas had pledged to replace the national Common Core standards.
On Dec. 19, the Arizona Board of Education approved several revisions of Common Core standards by a vote of 8 to 1, instituting far-reaching changes in the state's K-12 math and reading classes that will go into effect in fall 2018, The Arizona Republic reports.
Arizona had adopted the national Common Core standards in 2010. Superintendent Douglas had campaigned on doing away with the Common Core standards, acknowledged that the new revisions are not a full makeover but have fulfilled her goals.
"We now have new standards that have been worked on by Arizona teachers, parents and [have] been vetted by anti-Common Core experts," Douglas said, according to KMOV.
The superintendent added: "This is a proud day for Arizona. Has everything changed? No. Should everything have changed? No."
The most dramatic change to the state standards is a requirement to teach students cursive by the fifth grade. The revisions also update the language of certain mandates, providing teachers with more flexibility in how to interpret their curriculum and how to grade their students.
The Arizona Board of Education members have also agreed to remove a Common Core requirement that 70 percent of high school reading qualify as "informational" and only 30 percent be "literary."
Overall, board members believe that they have revised roughly 48 percent of Common Core's standards on language arts and 40 percent of its standards on math.
Democratic State Sen. Martin Quezada of Arizona praised Douglas' approach, noting that while she had campaigned on a full replacement of Common Core, she had instead taken a "responsible approach in looking at it and making revisions where necessary, and those revisions were made."
On Dec. 12, Professor Steve Graham of Arizona State University's Teachers College remarked that cursive has become outdated with the emergence of computer technology.
"[Cursive] is going away," Graham told WBUR. "It's used less and less today, just as handwriting in general is used less and less. The place where it's most likely to occur now is in schools because we're using 19th century tools for writing instead of 21st century tools."
The Arizona professor added that while he believed that handwriting would be used less frequently in the future, "I don't think its epitaph is written yet."