A Bill that Education Minister Hekia Parata says is the most comprehensive update of the system in 30 years has passed its first reading in parliament.
"It's about making clear the expectation on every publicly-funded education provider that they will raise the achievement of every New Zealand Child," Ms Parata said.
"It's also about maintaining choice, both for parents and schools so that they have the flexibility to choose what works for their students."
The Bill's most controversial and widely-reported provision is that it allows online learning centres to be set up, which parents can choose to use instead of schools.
Ms Parata says that's an option, not a replacement for the school system, and providers will have to go through rigorous registration processes before they can set up a centre.
Teacher unions and the Labour Party oppose online learning centres.
The Bill passed its first reading by 63 votes to 58 and has been sent to a select committee for public submissions.