The Secondary Principals Association says whether a student likes a teacher or feels cared for at school is not a key factor to getting an education.
A study of Maori secondary school students by Auckland University shows only half of respondents like school and a quarter of them felt like people at school cared about them a lot.
The survey of 1700 students revealed 43% felt their teachers were fair.
Association president Tom Parsons says the results are disappointing considering the efforts that have been put into Maori achievement.
However, he says feeling cared about or liking a teacher is not essential and the teacher's job is to deliver the curriculum and ensure the student learns, so a popular teacher isn't always an effective teacher.
He says the latest Ministry of Education data shows Maori are staying in school longer and achieving better in NCEA.