In this article, Jennifer O'Day builds on her earlier work defining and examining the standards-based reform movement in the United States. Here, O'Day explores accountability mechanisms currently associated with standards-based reform efforts that "take the school as the unit of accountability and seek to improve student learning by improving the functioning of the school organization." She examines such accountability mechanisms using the theoretical framework of complexity theory and focuses on how information travels through complex systems, with the understanding that information, its existence and usage, is key to improving schools. Drawing on work conducted with researchers at the Consortium for Policy Research in Education(CPRE), she contrasts the Chicago Public Schools' outcomes-based bureaucratic accountability approach with the combination of administrative and professional accountability found in the Baltimore City Schools. She argues that the combination of administrative and professional accountability presents a much more promising approach for implementing lasting and meaningful school reform.

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