Every student knows someone whose handwriting is downright unreadable. Some students are that person. For the most part, bad handwriting is something that teachers joke with their students about, with nothing ever being done to improve it. However, despite the lack of emphasis on good penmanship, the question has to be raised: does poor handwriting hinder students’ grades?
Jokes are jokes, but when a student receives a worse grade for poor penmanship, the attitude changes quickly. Science teacher Erica Woll said, “If I can’t read it, then I don’t know how to understand what is being conveyed to me. There are times where if I can’t read it then I can’t grade it.”
Junior Alexis Escobar said, “I don’t think handwriting should affect grades. For me at least, my brain processes words faster than my hand, so I kind of scribble a lot, but my brain is just too fast for my hand to keep up.”
However, junior Alicia Plascencia Gonzalez said, “If a 17-year-old is writing like a toddler and a teacher can’t read it, they deserve a worse grade.”
Every teacher has a different policy when it comes to legibility. English teacher David Rosenberg said, “The only way a student’s handwriting will affect their grade in my class is if it’s utterly illegible and impossible to read. In the AP standards, if you can’t read it, you don’t grade it.” Rosenberg’s solution to this problem is simple: he said, “I’ll have them sit down and read it to me, so I am always erring on the side of trying to give them the credit.”
Java teacher Cynthia Donaldson holds a similar worry to Rosenberg about AP graders not having the patience to grade poor handwriting. She said, “For the AP graders, when they are grading 1,000 papers a day, they don’t have the same commitment to each student to slow down and really pay attention to what the words are, so they might misread something and give a student a lower grade.”
Senior Toni Olivero said, “I don’t think penmanship should affect grades because if a student knows the answer but writes it down poorly they should not be marked down. If the knowledge is in their brain, that’s what is more important than handwriting.”
Junior Sam Leslie finally stated, “I’ll never forget my AP Euro class last year when Ms. Stone told me that she would rather read 20 other students’ essays than try to decipher one of mine.”
Overall, the advice for students cursed with bad handwriting seems to be non-existent, many teachers will take the time to decipher your writing, and in the worst case will have you come in to help them understand it.