Sean Nank
To: PAEMST Recipients

Testing over Teaching

High-stakes standardized assessments permeate conversations at all levels of education.  Standardized assessments are not inherently bad.  However, the collective meaning our society makes of them is cause for concern.


Sean Nank studies mathematics teachers using a reform curriculum.  Due in large part to the pressure to teach only topics covered on standardized assessments, the teachers use standardized assessments to determine what they taught and as a convenient justification for how they taught.


Using standardized assessments in lieu of teachers’ professional judgment and collaboration risk changing the face of mathematics education for years to come.  Mathematics education stands on a precipice of competing definitions.  A generation of students risk viewing math as rigidly devoid of the beauty inherent in the subject lest we place educating students before increasing one score on one standardized assessment once a year.

Click the book cover or here to purchase Testing over Teaching.



“Each case he describes is carefully considered through influential factors that lead to the detailed outcomes . . . [Dr. Nank] portrays no tone of unevenness or judgment.  It is a work of science, presenting us with new knowledge . . . to better understand our field of mathematics education, and help to understand what may influence curricular and pedagogical change . . . The real concern that emerges for the reader is not whether one curriculum is better than another, but a profound ethical dilemma about the role of high stakes testing in mathematics education.”


Brian R. Lawler, Ph.D.

California State University San Marcos