In Australia, as in many western education systems over the last two decades, discourses of accountability and performativity have reshaped education policy that has in turn reorganised the work of school leaders and teachers. One of the effects of this reorganisation is increased attention to the production, analysis and display of student achievement data. In this paper we examine in detail a sequence of the production and reading of literacy assessment data in a small Catholic school. Our analysis uses institutional ethnography's concept of the ‘active text’, the text as occurring in a specific place and time even as it is articulated to social relations beyond its immediate context. Through this process we learn from those involved how their everyday work brings into being formalised, textually authorised processes in a local site that ensure the school meets accountability requirements, while enabling teachers to resist standardisation of literacy teaching and assessment.