Education Minister Anne Tolley says she will deal with any boards of trustees that refuse to implement new national literacy and numeracy standards, if and when that happens.
The new national standards will start being brought into schools around the country from next week.
Some Northland primary school principals are defying the Government, saying they won't introduce the policy until they see proof that it works.
Last year, 80 Northland primary school principals voted to reject the standards regime, unless the Government could show it would help children.
Tai Tokerau Principals Federation president, Pat Newman, says many new students have the skills of three-year olds, and the standards policy has taken money from programmes that were helping them catch up, such as those aimed at teaching children to read.
Mr Newman says the $26 million being spent on giving information to parents would be better spent in classrooms.
The Education Minister Anne Tolley says boards of trustees, not principals, run the schools, and she is confident they will move to implement the national standards.
She told Nine to Noon she will deal with any school boards which refuse to introduce the standards, if and when that happens.
The minister says the debate is now over, and it's time to get on with the practical implementation.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister John Key relieved Mrs Tolley of her tertiary education portfolio, giving the role to Transport Minister Steven Joyce.
Mrs Tolley says the reason for the move is to allow her more time to focus on introducing national standards for literacy and numeracy in primary schools this year.
Standards 'will hurt Maori'
Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says the national standards will hurt Maori students.
Ms Turei says it's clear Mrs Tolley is following former United States president George Bush's policy of "no child left behind", even though it has been shown to have negative effects.
She told Waatea News that black and poorer students in the UK and the United States have suffered the most under national standards, because teachers are teaching to the tests.
Ms Turei says low-decile schools which include many Maori children will be hit hardest by national standards.