Since 1997 appraisal has been a mandated requirement of New Zealand schools. While the management of teacher performance is not new, schools are increasingly being faced with difficult and complex decisions regarding accountability mechanisms for teacher performance. Moreover, in a climate of school self-management the potential exists for tensions between bureaucratic systems and the professional autonomy of teachers to surface. This article reports on research conducted in 2001 that investigated teachers' perceptions of the bureaucratic and professional approaches to performance management in their schools. In a climate of increasing control of teachers' work and professional activities by the State, results from recent research indicate that school managers have adopted a professional approach to the appraisal of staff. Moreover the involvement of teachers in developing school-level appraisal systems is pinpointed as fundamental to the long-term success of appraisal in New Zealand schools.