Teacher Testimony: Why I Support the Common Core Standards

On March 20, North Carolina high school teacher Nancy Gardner testified before a legislative committee about how her students benefit from the Common Core State Standards.

I started teaching in 1974. I am preparing seniors for a very different world now in 2014—some 40 years later. Here are three things my students in 2014 do well

On March 20, North Carolina high school teachers Nancy Gardner and Rod Powell testified before a legislative committee about how their students benefit from the Common Core State Standards.

My name is Nancy Gardner, and I teach senior English students at Mooresville Senior High School in North Carolina. I am a National Board Certified Teacher whose leadership is rooted in my work with the Center for Teaching Quality.

I started teaching in 1974. I am preparing seniors for a very different world now in 2014—some 40 years later.

Here are three things my students in 2014 do well:

  1. Multitask on their devices
  2. Live in the present
  3. Take multiple choice tests

Here are three things students in 2014 struggle with:

  1. Problem solving
  2. Critical reading and writing
  3. Perseverance

These last three skills are the heart and soul of the Common Core literacy standards. The standards outline what my seniors need to know and be able to do to be successful in a rapidly changing world.

They don’t tell me how to teach or what to teach–that’s my job.

My students can Google facts and figures all day, but if they haven’t mastered literacy skills, they won’t be ready for the future. It’s my job to help students learn to read like detectives and write like private investigators. It’s my job to make them read closely, think deeply, and communicate clearly.

The Common Core standards help me focus on the skills these seniors need to be ready for the next part of their lives. Whether my students eventually diagnose what is wrong with my heart or with the engine in my car, they will be critical thinkers and problem solvers.

The Common Core helps me do my job, so my students will be able to do theirs.

Read Part Two–NC teacher Rod Powell’s testimony–here.

  • AnneKeith




    I love your thoughts. Unfortunately “part 2” would not open?


    What was the reaction of the committee members? Did they ask any hard questions?



    • Nancy Gardner

      Common Core Committee

      Thanks for your kind remarks, Anne.  Rod and I were able to speak personally with a few representatives after the hearing, and I wasn’t particularly impressed with what they asked or seem to understand about what standards mean and why they are important.  I can only hope they will read the standards (as many naysayers have not) and perhaps understand they are not offensive or complex.  We need to continue to voice our support for Common Core through any and all means.  Thanks for being a teacher leader!


    • LaurenStephenson

      Part Two fixed!

      The link to Part Two (Rod Powell’s testimony) now works. 🙂

  • Jim

    Keep Trying

    It is very doubtful that our state legislature will listen.  North Carolina and its leadership have already downgraded teachers to non-professional status.  We have organizations in this state that supposedly represent teachers but more or less represent themselves. 

    • Nancy Gardner

      Sad, but true

      I totally understand, Jim, based on all of the decisions of our current legislature.  I am just going to try to help clarify what CCSS are…and what they aren’t.

  • JessicaCuthbertson

    The power of 3!


    Beautifully said. I love your simple list of “three things” your students do well and struggle with — and the connection you make to the way the CCSS addresses the critical skills our students need to truly be 21st century thinkers. I think in this list of six (or 2 lists of 3) traits you could create six separate posts (a series for teachers who need CCSS support! 🙂 (For example, how sad is it that your seniors are skilled at taking mutiple choice tests!) 

    I think a lot about everything I want my students to learn in a given year but I think the Common Core has really helped me focus on what’s most important: at the heart of my 7th grade ELA class I want my students to begin to learn to be critical consumers and competent producers of a wide variety of texts.

    I’d love to be a senior again in order to take your class!

    Signed – your fellow Colorado Core Advocate 🙂

  • Nancy Gardner

    NCCA to CCA

    Dear Colorado Core Advocate-

    Your response reinforces 2 other strong positives about the standards.  Your 7th graders are working on skills vertically aligned to what I ask my seniors to do….and you and I can have discussions from Colorado to North Carolina about how to improve teaching and learning using these standards!
    North Carolina Core Advocate

  • John

    Common Core Panacea

    It seems the author has little understanding of what the objections to the Common Core are, because she likes just the standards themselves. From the development board composed of billionaires with NO teacher or parent involvement through forcing all states to adopt standards (by carrot of funding), to evaluation of schools and teachers, the problems are not just with the “standards” themselves. It is an entire package designed to interface with the new (read “lower challenge”) SAT with curricular materials developed by educational giant Pearson Education. Indeed, the head of the College Board was involved with developing standards!  To better understand the objections, see more here:


    Indeed, “Common Core” is more than just standards imposed from above that you may agree with.