The introduction of standard assessments and output-based accountability has become a global phenomenon in education policy, particularly among the advanced industrial nations. The emerging policy regime combines centralization measures in educational outputs through standardized curriculum and assessment, centralized goal setting, and the publication of performance indicators with decentralization in educational processes (e.g. day-to-day management and curricular work in schools). While decentralization measures supposedly ‘free’ schools from bureaucratic regulations and promote their autonomy and innovation, centralization measures hold them accountable for their outputs. This is what is referred to as ‘simultaneously loose and tight’ or ‘controlled decontrol’ in management literature (Ball 2008, 48). The odd combination of centralization and decentralization forms a new mode of governance in public sectors including education designed to ‘steer from a distance,’ as opposed to ‘the use of traditional bureaucracies and administrative systems to deliver or micro-manage policy systems’ (Ball 2008, 41).