One of the country's leading schools is telling students not to waste their time with NCEA.
Auckland Grammar has directed Year 11 students to study for the University of Cambridge international exams instead.
The move is backed by the board of trustees, the academic committee and the majority of parents.
NCEA is New Zealand's main secondary school qualification.
Mount Albert Grammar principal Dale Burden said the national qualification has come a long way and recent changes have reformed the qualification .
"It certainly recognises excellence in a way that it didn't before," he said.
But Auckland Grammar principal John Morris believes the challenge of the Cambridge system's end-of-year examinations better suits the learning style and nature of his students.
"We feel that the Cambridge programme is the much more motivational tool than the NCEA is, because NCEA is predominantly now internally assessed - you only need to get a certain number of credits then boys tend to switch off," Morris said.
He said the large internal assessment element of NCEA also encourages copying, and discourages students from excelling.
"Eighteen months ago I spoke at a NZQA professional development group for their senior managers, and mentioned that it's highly likely in the next 18 months that we (Auckland Grammar) would go to this situation where we don't do NCEA level one... and not one person said that we couldn't do it," Morris said.
However, the Ministry of Education has said that schools have to offer NCEA, even if they are also offering other qualifications.
"The Education Act requires students to have access to a nationally and internationally recognised qualifications system...," the Ministry said in a statement today.
Secondary outcomes manager Tony Turnock said alternatives to NCEA are not part of New Zealand's nationally-recognised qualifications system.
But the Ministry adds that the Cambridge is a stand-alone qualification which should only be offered along side NCEA in state schools.
Turnock said NCEA is a robust, internationally recognised qualification that measures achievement in a broad range of subjects and is designed for students of all abilities.
The Secondary Principals' Association also told ONE News it is concerned the move could create the perception of a two-tiered education system, where NCEA is seen as inferior and NCEA students are labelled "weaker".
"I don't think that's my problem or my school's problem to be honest, we're just trying to do the best thing by our students," said Morris.
This year, high school students were able to check their NCEA results on the NZQA website.
It's the first time students have been able to access their results online . They will be sent out in the post from tomorrow.
"I think that's what students expect of us really. They want to get their results quickly. They want to get them online. They don't want to be waiting around for the post," NZQA deputy chief executive Bali Haque said.