We were expected to be able to write and read cursive. Not only that, we were all expected to write exactly the same way. We held our pencils exactly the same way, we formed the letters the same way, the letters were all uniform in size.
We had penmanship lessons. First we traced the letters, then we created our own. If ours didn't look exactly like the example, we did it again. We got a grade for how well we were able to conform to the penmanship expectation.
When did all this stop? Students hold pencils any way they want. Letters are all different sizes and are formed any which way. There is no uniform capitalization or spacing. In short, its a mess.
An unintended result of never really learning how to write cursive is that students never really learn to read cursive. Cursive is becoming extinct.