The Education Review Office says most of the centres secondary schools run for students with bad behaviour are not doing a good job.
A new report has found that only two of the 14 activity centres run by clusters of schools throughout New Zealand are getting most of their troubled teenagers back into regular classrooms.
The report says all the centres provide a warm and safe environment for the Year 9, 10 and 11 students they work with.
But not all have high expectations for their students or plan effectively for their return to school, and only one uses a Ministry of Education toolkit outlining the responsibilities of activity centres.
The Education Review Office says two centres get most of their students to return successfully to a regular school, but the others are not good enough.
National manager of evaluation services Stephanie Greaney says it has recommended the ministry help activity centres to improve.
The Wellington Activity Centre says high expectations are important and all centres should be helped to do a good job.