Thousands of high school students are still leaving school with minimal qualfications.
Latest school leaving statistics show more students gained NCEA credits, but about 5% of students leave with nothing at all.
More than a half of Maori students and a third of all students overall left last year without completing a sixth form qualification.
However, Radio New Zealand's education correspondent says the figures show increasing numbers are leaving school with higher qualifications: 39% achieved university entrance last year compared with 29% 10 years ago.
However, the Secondary Principals Association says the critical figure is those leaving without NCEA Level Two - the standard it says is needed to access further training or study.
Education Minister Chris Carter says he remains concerned that too many are leaving school without the qualifications and skills they need to succeed in 21st century society.