An ultimatum has been issued to schools rebelling against the national standards to fall into line - or else.
The Ministry of Education has been writing to the schools, in some cases giving them just 10 working days to comply with the controversial policy.
The ministry's letters are the latest step in a process that could end with school boards being sacked.
The letters demand the schools use the standards in reading, writing and maths in their student achievement targets, and in some cases set a deadline for compliance.
But principals say the ministry cannot put time limits on the process - it has to negotiate the issue with school boards.
They say they will deal with the ministry's request in their own time.
However, they acknowledge that it is time for the rebel schools to decide if they will stand firm, or fall into line.
Balmoral School principal Malcolm Milner says his school in Auckland will ignore the deadline.