Internal and external accountability.

Richard Elmore (2002) and Charles Abelman (Abelman & Elmore, 1999) argue that external incentives, rewards and sanctions, on their own, cannot produce effective improvement processes in schools. As Elmore (2002) puts it: a school’s response to external pressures “is contingent on the capacity of the individual school or school district to receive the message the incentive carries, to translate it into a concrete and effective course of action, and to execute that action.” (p. 21)
From this standpoint, schools need to develop some instructional coherence and internal accountability before external accountability systems can work effectively: schools with weaker internal accountability are more like to produce superficial, fragmented and incoherent responses; schools with strong internal accountability are more likely to respond in productive and coordinated ways. In turn, strong internal accountability grows out of the belief that school staff can have a positive impact on student learning and the knowledge and skills to act on those beliefs.