There is a considerable body of research literature (e.g. Nichols and Berliner 2007; Stobart 2008; Taubman 2009; Darling-Hammond 2010) demonstrating the perverse effects of high stakes testing upon teachers’ pedagogical practices and upon students (Jones et al. 1999). We use the term ‘perverse’, following its use in that literature and by our research interviewees. Both usages refer to the anti-educational effects which result when performance measures become targets for systems and schools. However, we do not mean to imply that these effects are simply an aberration in new accountability regimes; rather, we see them as almost the ‘new norm’. Contemporary regimes of accountability and testing in Australian schooling and their effects on and within educational systems are the concerns of this paper.