Official targets for Maori primary pupils are likely to be missed by as much as 20 per cent in some cases.
The Ministry of Education has published its four-year plan, including five indicators that it says provide a "litmus test" of its progress in lifting student achievement.
At the primary school level, the official target is to have 85 per cent of Maori students at or above the national standard in reading, writing and mathematics next year.
The most recent Maori results available from 2014 show that will be missed by a considerable margin.
In reading, 69 per cent are at or above the standard. That drops to 65 per cent in maths, and 61 in writing.
Across all students in 2014, 78 per cent were at or above national standards in reading, 71.1 per cent in writing, and 75.2 per cent in maths.
At secondary school, 68 per cent of Maori 18-year-olds achieved NCEA Level 2 or better in 2014. That was well below the 85 per cent target for 2017, but 10 per cent up since 2011.
Lisa Rodgers, the ministry's deputy secretary of early learning and student achievement, said the targets were "very ambitious".
"We are still working towards that target for 2017 and recognise that it is a stretch, but we want to aim high and drive towards ambitious goals.
"The progress we have made is making a real difference to thousands of students. And in fact we are seeing steady progress in Maori students' attainment in national standards."
That included a 2.1 per cent lift in reading since 2012, 3.7 per cent in writing and 2.5 per cent in maths.
Rodgers said more had to be done, and extra spending was going towards initiatives including reorganisation of teacher professional development, with $47 million spent a year on programmes to lift achievement in reading and writing.
About $20m a year was going towards maths initiatives, Rodgers said, and "communities of learning" were working to address challenges Maori and other groups faced.
Labour's education spokesman, Chris Hipkins, said there was no real plan behind the targets so it was not surprising they wouldn't be hit.
National failed to recognise how poverty-related out of school factors were holding children back, he said.