Some school principals say Ministry of Education staff have told them to fudge information so it appears they are using the national standards in reading, writing and maths, even if they are not.
Two school principals have told Radio New Zealand News that ministry staff suggested they mention the standards in their charter documents.
The principals say they were told that would be enough to comply with ministry requirements - even though they are not using the standards.
The principal of Nelson's Tahunanui Primary School, Paul Drummond, says his targets do not use the standards and ministry staff pointed that out during a meeting.
"(They) then advised us that although our target-setting was precise ... we could easily modify our current targets to include national standards by adding simplistically the words, even though we really weren't genuinely using them."
The Principal's Federation is aware of aware of several other principals being told the same thing.
The Ministry of Education says more than 93% of the 810 school charters it has assessed so far include student achievement targets that relate to the standards.
However, the Principals Federation doubts all are in fact using the standards.
The ministry says it is following legislative requirements to ensure boards are doing what they should, and expects any school with national standards targets in its charter to follow that charter.