A leading education professor says new research shows governments must raise the quality of teachers and principals if they want to improve their schools.
John Hattie, formerly of Auckland University, is director of Melbourne University's institute of education research.
He said most New Zealand teachers were good at their job, but there was still too much variation between them.
"Whatever teacher a student is assigned to is whats makes the difference and those teachers within any one school can have quite a lot of variability in their impact on students.
"How can we have the best teachers - those who are having the greatest impact - understand better what they do, get them involved then invite the others to come across and be like those teachers in their impact."
Professor Hattie said the debate over which school is best for children was a major distraction, as there was very little difference between schools in New Zealand.
"That whole discussion about setting up new kinds of schools and charter schools and private schools and any kind of schools is just a major distraction.
"You've spent the last 10 or 20 years in New Zealand giving parents this belief that they have the option to choice schools, now that's an incredible distraction because what matters, which they have no rights, is whether you chose teachers."
Professor Hattie said the Government's new scheme of schools forming groups and sharing good teaching was on the right track.