Education Minister Hekia Parata says the Prime Minister's comments supporting league tables have not caught her by surprise.
The Government had earlier signalled it would be reluctant to use league tables, but John Key now says it makes sense to introduce them for primary schools, using national standards data.
Mr Key did not talk to the Education Minister before making his comments, but Ms Parata says they were not a surprise.
She says his comments are consistent with what the Government has been saying since introducing national standards.
The NZEI union representing primary teachers and the Secondary Principals Association have criticised the idea.
Ms Parata says there is an ongoing conversation with the sector despite the apparent opposition.
"I'm not looking to buy a fight with anyone. I think that we can all unite in the interests of what's good for our learners," she said.
When questioned by reporters on Tuesday Ms Parata did not bluntly state her support for league tables, but said it is an ongoing conversation about how to provide meaningful and useful data on learning.
"I think that there is a fundamental interest by parents across the country in how well their children are doing at school, and being able to provide them with that data will assist them to know that."
Mr Key said on Monday that league tables are a credible way to give parents information about a school's performance in numeracy and literacy.
"I've always had a view that somehow this information is going to be in the public domain. The question is, what form is it going to take and what's it going to look like.
"What I don't want to see is schools actually damaged by the information being presented in the wrong way.
"So all I'm saying is, that's a debate that we need to have with them to see whether there's some common ground."
The Green and Labour parties say the move will do nothing to improve children's learning and does not fit with the Government's aim of improving teacher quality.
Labour leader David Shearer said it would not bring about an improvement in the quality of teaching.
"There's an argument to say that if schools aren't working as well as they should, there should be more intervention and we should step in and make sure our kids get the right support in schools.
"But I don't see a league table doing that. I just see the league table as a means by which scoring of schools happens."