John Stodter, director of education, told councillors: "The education authority and the school did not arbitrarily dismiss the Scottish Office targets as too high, as the HMI document would suggest, but made an adjustment to these on the basis of concrete data and a good local knowledge of the school and its circumstances."
Aberdeen continues to challenge the senior chief inspector's rejection of its special cases and points out that secondaries at Bridge of Don and Cults do not have a tradition of pupils taking five or more Highers, one of the benchmarks. Universities, for the majority of courses, only require three quality passes.
"Sitting five Highers in one year often means that pupils are devoting time and energy to a subject with which they are less comfortable and this has a knock-on effect to all other subjects, lowering results overall." the city says.
Aberdeen also says that the pattern of leaving at Torry Academy disadvantages it because of the insistence on using the roll in September and not at the time of Standard grade exams in May.
In a third rebuttal, Aberdeen argues that Harlaw Academy has been asked to raise targets on top of significant progress over the past three years.