One of the country's most prestigious public secondary schools, Auckland Grammar, is dumping NCEA qualifications at Year 11 level, becoming the first state school to do so.
Students will instead sit the internationally recognised University of Cambridge exams, with a few exceptions for lower-achieving boys.
Auckland Grammar headmaster John Morris says he believes the national qualifications do not suit Year 11 boys because they involve too much internal assessment instead of end-of-year exams.
Mr Morris says NCEA has led to a lack of motivation in many students who are able to avoid harder assessments and copy other people's work.
He says the move has been well-received by parents, with no one that he is aware of removing their children because of it.
He says about 70% of the school's Year 12 and 13 students sit Cambridge exams and the rest do NCEA.
Education Minister Anne Tolley said in a statement that she has full confidence in NCEA.
The Secondary Principals' Association says it respects the right of schools to choose the qualification that best meets the needs of its students.
The association's president Patrick Walsh says since the introduction of NCEA more schools are choosing to offer alternative qualifications.
But he says the vast majority of secondary schools find the NCEA is a good qualification that suits the needs of students and prepares them well for university and the workplace.