Some principals say their schools have been wrongly included in the Government's flagship education plan.
They say their schools have been named as participants in the Investing in Educational Success scheme next year - even though they have not agreed to join it.
The $359 million plan will pay some teachers and principals more to raise achievement.
The principals of Havelock School and Bohally Intermediate in Blenheim said today they were surprised to find their schools among the 83 expected to participate.
They said their schools had not yet committed to joining the scheme and should never have been included. And they said they were not the only ones.
The Ministry of Education said it had only named the schools included in expressions of interest it received.
It suggested that some schools had been pressured to leave the scheme by people opposed to it.
Meanwhile, a leading educator has called for greater efforts to weed out poorly-performing teachers and the introduction of performance pay.
Bali Haque, a former secondary school principal and deputy chief executive of the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, makes the call in his book Changing Our Secondary Schools.
He criticises the major education reforms of the past 25 years, and says the latest government initiative is unlikely to work.
Mr Haque said competition between schools is having a negative effect and schools should have full control over their staffing funding so good teachers can be paid more.