Sikeston Junior High student Andrew Wallace has made his teachers' dreams a reality as he earned a perfect score on the eighth grade math portion of the Missouri Assessment Program test he took last spring.
"For me this is like 60 home runs in a year and it's one of those things you never expect to see," said Sikeston Junior High School Principal Andy Comstock. "It's truly phenomenal."
Comstock noted he's talked with administrators from several of the area's districts and none he's talked with have had a student make a perfect score before.
"It gives hope for the kids -- to show that something extraordinary can be done," Comstock said.
For Wallace, now a ninth grader, he was just doing what he does everyday and the only problem he can remember about last year's test was the donut shop problem, where the problem gave rates and he had to figure how many doughnuts you could buy for $20.
"It was challenging ... I didn't think I did bad," Wallace recalled about the test.
Wallace, who is the son of Ron and Terri Wallace of Sikeston, didn't find out until last fall how he'd done on the test.
"Mr. Comstock came in the room and he took the hour to give our scores back and when he got to mine he stopped and stared and then asked to see me after class," Wallace said.
Wallace's total score was 915 points, and Comstock pointed out that in order to be eligible for the advanced scoring category, students must receive at least 785 points.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's MAP Director Walt Brown said receiving a perfect score isn't frequent among students.
Although Brown didn't have exact statistics of how rare it really is to receive a perfect score, he said it's comparable to that of a student scoring a perfect score on their ACTs.
"Any score at proficient is fantastic. Even a score at nearing proficient isn't that bad, especially in the eighth grade math," Comstock noted.
In eighth grade mathematics last year, of the 71,153 students who took the test just over 1 percent of the students scored at the advanced level and just less than 13 percent scored at the proficient level.
"It is very difficult and I'd almost wager to say some adults would struggle with this test on the eighth grade math, including myself," said Comstock. Algebra and geometry are both part of the test, but students must also know number systems, how to analyze data and calculate probability, Brown pointed out. The test is comprised of problem solving, application and multiple choice components.
"The district strives for excellence and Andrew is a great example of such. To score advanced on the MAP test is highly commendable, but a perfect score is remarkable and extraordinary," said Dr. R. Larry Bohannon, assistant superintendent of secondary education and professional development.
Missouri schools could begin testing their students Monday for this year's MAP (Missouri Assessment Program) test, but have until the end of April to administer the tests. So for now, the Junior High is still celebrating Wallace's triumph.
"It comes natural for him," said Wallace's eighth grade math teacher, Mary Seyer.
Seyer admitted when she learned Wallace received a perfect score she was surprised -- not because she didn't think he could do it but because he never showed his work in class. And students must show their work on the MAP test.
"He does everything in his head. He does mental math," Seyer said.
Wallace has competed in several district and state math competitions since the fourth grade.
Vicki Bullard, Wallace's current math teacher, said the students are aware of Wallace's talent.
"One student said, 'I don't need a calculator -- I've got Andrew,'" Bullard said. But don't get the wrong impression -- Wallace is not just a walking book, Bullard said.
"He's not a nerd by any means," Bullard said. "He has other interests and is very well liked and respected by the other students."
Wallace and his parents will be recognized at the district's board of education meeting next month.