EAST Renfrewshire, covering the ultimate in leafy suburbia, has become the first authority to have surpassed all seven Standard grade and Higher targets to be achieved by 2001.
The 2001 targets, which also cover the 5-14 stages, represent average performance over the three years from 1999. John Wilson, East Renfrewshire's head of quality development, said: "This level of performance must obviously be at least maintained if the authority is to meet its targets."
In the key measures which are the most difficult for most schools, East Renfrewshire was only able to overtake its targets because three of its seven secondaries - Eastwood, Mearns Castle and St Ninian's - performed particularly well.
The council's figures show that in the 1999 exams, 52 per cent of the fourth year gained five or more Standard grades 1-2 against the 2001 target of 51 per cent,
89.4 per cent achieved five-plus Standard grades 1-4 (88 per cent), and 37.3 per cent got at least three Highers at A-C (37 per cent).
Other authorities are also reporting steady if less spectacular progress towards meeting the controversial attainment targets. Edinburgh has turned in its best-ever Standard grade results, adding another three points to the top Standard grade award - which 32 per cent of pupils achieved against a target of 35 per cent; an increase to 72 per cent in the numbers with Standard grades 1 4 leaves it just three points short.
Attainment at Higher level has remained at 22 per cent for the proportion of Edinburgh pupils gaining A-C passes in each of the past three years, and remained at around the same level this year. The three-year target for that measure is 24.9 per cent.
Roy Jobson, Edinburgh's director of education, says he is particularly pleased at the improvements shown by schools with high levels of deprivation.
"Teachers are now more comfortable with the targets," Mr Jobson said. "They see it as not just a numerical exercise but as a means of getting at which methods deliver the best results."
In Clackmannanshire, a move by Alva Academy to an eight-subject curriculum is said to be a factor in the school's "significant gains" at Standard grade.
The authority is ahead of its 2001 targets on Standard grade performance in English and maths and is meeting the numbers with five or more Standard grades 1-6, but is behind on the other four measures.
Jim Goodall, the head of educational development, believes the Standard grade results are "encouraging" but says schools are not yet on course to meet Higher grade targets.
Significant improvements are reported in South Lanarkshire which has reached the national average for five or more Standard grades 1-2. The 27 per cent who have three-plus Higher passes is up three points which means the authority has moved "from significantly below the national average to just below".