Targeting Excellence includes plans to give heads more discretion over pay and conditions, improve teacher training, new powers for ministers and councils to tackle failing schools and the investment of pound;15 million in supporting problem schools.
Ronnie Smith, general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland, the biggest teachers' union, said the document was a "wasted opportunity" and a "tragic failure of imagination".
George Ross, general secretary of the Headteachers' Association of Scotland, welcomed the focus on the quality and status of teachers, but hoped that local authorities would continue to have a supportive role in school improvement.
"Some of the proposals look like the English scenario where hit squads are sent in."
The White Paper proposes powers for Scotland's General Teaching Council to deregister teachers who fail to meet professional standards.
Mike Baker, page 16