Oxfordshire's schoolchildren are falling behind with handwriting, according to county council report.
It says Oxfordshire is in the bottom quarter of all local authorities for writing at Key Stage 2.
A total of 68% of pupils met the expected standard, compared with 73% in England.
The county councillor in charge of education, Melinda Tilley, said it could be down to a new assessment regime which "isn't bedded in yet".
"But obviously we're disappointed when we sit below the national average," Ms Tilley added.
Lee Dein, creator of the Magic Link Handwriting Programme - a system used in schools to improve writing - said good penmanship could build confidence in children and lead to better exam results.
"Also there's a stigma attached to handwriting - if you write neatly people will think you're more intelligent," Ms Dein said.
In Oxfordshire, 52% of Key Stage 2 pupils met expected reading standards, which is the same as the proportion for England; in maths, 69% of Key Stage 2 pupils in the county hit the expected standard, compared with 70% of pupils in England.