Journal of Educational Change

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 37–46 | Cite as

School leadership in an age of accountability: Tensions between managerial and professional accountability

  • Jorunn MøllerEmail author


Standards and accountability have become a central issue of educational reform in many countries. Professional standards for teachers and principals have been developed, and benchmarking and comparison are at the heart of the new performance assessment. ‘Designer leadership’ has become a defining theme for leadership in the appearance of regimes of assessment (Gronn 2003). Although performance standards can provide comprehensive descriptions of the elements of principals’ work, and the development processes used in validating the standards are often hugely consultative, there are several important weaknesses connected to it. A main criticism is related to its decontextualized feature (Louden and Wildy 1999). In addition, standardized evaluation policies and protocols tend to create as many problems as they solve, and the discourses of accountability are often a mixture of several forms of accountability (Elmore 2004; Sinclair 1995; Sirotnik 2005). The paper aims to explore frameworks of accountability which may support student learning and highlights claims about what would allow school leaders to take risks and be imaginative in their approach to school improvement.


Managerial accountability Professional accountability School improvement School leadership Standards in education 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Teacher Education and School DevelopmentUniversity of OsloBlindern, OsloNorway

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