Māori and Pasifika high school students are on average achieving slightly below their Pākehā and Asian classmates in maths and health and physical education.
The National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement has been released and analyses data collected in 2013 from each year level at 100 schools.
The study's manager of assessment design and reporting Charles Darr said while some Māori and Pacific students do excel in the two subjects, the figures were an average.
He said although Māori and Pasifika students had been priority learning areas for a long time, they continued on average to not perform at the same level as other students.
Mr Darr said a lot of it was associated with tight economic challenges that Māori and Pasifika students faced.
He said both ethnicities tend to be in lower decile schools and while that did not mean they had less opportunity to learn, the socio-economic challenges were there.
"A lot of this is tightly associated with economic challenges that these ethnic groups can have as well.
"Most Māori and Pasifika students, a greater proportion of those students, will be in school classified as lower decile schools.
"That doesn't necessarily mean that they have less opportunity to learn or less resources, but in terms of a socio-economic variable that challenge is there."
Mr Darr said that when the two subjects were last surveyed about five years ago, the results were very similar.
He said more and more attention was being paid to how important the curriculum areas are and how different learner groups need to be thought about carefully in terms of strategies.
"We are in a good place and what we are doing with this study is seeing where we are up to and creating benchmarks and using them to help us think further of what we might do and then to re-look at to see if we are making an improvement."
He said Maori and Pasifika students were on average generally doing better at higher decile schools.