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The Perfect Score

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No one likes or wants to take the statewide assessment tests. Not the students in Mrs. Woods's sixth-grade class, not even their teacher. It's not like the kids don't already have things to worry about. . . .

Under pressure to be the top gymnast her mother expects her to be, RANDI starts to wonder what her destiny truly holds. Football-crazy GAVIN has always struggled with reading and feels as dumb as his high school-dropout father. TREVOR acts tough and mean, but as much as he hates school, he hates being home even more. SCOTT's got a big brain and an even bigger heart, especially when it comes to his grandfather, but his good intentions always backfire in spectacular ways. NATALIE, know-it-all and aspiring lawyer, loves to follow the rules--only this year, she's about to break them all.

The whole school is in a frenzy with test time approaching--kids, teachers, the administration. Everyone is anxious. When one of the kids has a big idea for acing the tests, they're all in. But things get ugly before they get better, and in the end, the real meaning of the perfect score surprises them all.

370 pages, Hardcover

First published October 3, 2017

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Rob Buyea

13 books433 followers

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5 stars
1,138 (47%)
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850 (35%)
3 stars
300 (12%)
2 stars
70 (2%)
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17 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 308 reviews
Profile Image for Annie K..
163 reviews
December 6, 2017
This book was a great read. I felt like the plot was pretty predictable, but overall the whole thing was a fun read. I liked how the characters changed and learned from their mistakes. Overall, nothing spectacular, but good nonetheless.
Profile Image for Christina Hanson.
115 reviews27 followers
June 4, 2017
"Things need to get ugly before they can get better. It's that simple. It's a fact of life." This quote couldn't be more true in Rob Buyea's latest book, The Perfect Score.

Gavin (a football nut), Natalie (a wannabe lawyer), Randi (a top gymnast under a lot of pressure), Scott (a brainiac), and Trevor (a tough guy who hates school) are all about to start sixth grade. When they find out Mr. Mitchell, the awesome teacher they were suppose to have, is being replaced with Mrs. Woods, an old lady who is coming out of retirement, they are not too excited for the upcoming school year. But Mrs. Woods surprises them by reading books aloud like Wonder, Ungifted, and Shiloh which they all come to enjoy. Plus, they are all involved in an Art and Community Service program at the library after school with science teacher, Mrs. Magenta. But the pressure of the state assessment test is building: students are constantly completing worksheets and practice tests; teachers can't teach what they want or read aloud to students; and administrators are putting a lot of pressure on students and teachers to do their absolute best. So when Scott comes up with the idea that they can all ace the test, with the help of a silent secret code he developed, they are all in. Can they pull off a perfect score?

Written in classic Buyea-form, The Perfect Score is wonderfully told from the five student's perspectives. This is a heart-warming story with compassion and kindness, tear-jerking back stories, and unexpected friendships. A must-add to your classroom library when it's released in October.
14 reviews1 follower
September 11, 2018
This is a book written from 5 different people's perspective: Randi, under her mom's pressure to be the top gymnast, also a big believer in destiny. Gavin, a football-crazy kid, when it comes to reading, he feel as dumb as hid high school-dropout father. Trevor, acts tough and mean, but hate home more than he hates school. Scott, a kid who's got a big brain and an even bigger heart, especially when it comes to his grandfather, but most of the times his good intentions backfire in spectacular ways. Natalie, a know-it-all and a perfectionist, aspiring lawyer who loves to follow the rules.

These are 5 kids who are all in Mrs. Woods's sixth-grade class for this year. Everyday they go to school, they have classed, then recess, then more classes, and before the end of the school, Mrs. Woods would read-aloud to the class. Things went pretty well until one day, Mrs. Woods announced that they have to start getting down to business. The school wants them to get ready for those CSA(Comprehensive Student Assessments) test that they will be taking in the spring, so she peppered them with one worksheet after another. It was okay at first, but after the Christmas break, the principle introduced 3 experts that will be administering their practice tests in the classrooms. And then things got even worse, all the times for recess and reading books are now used for practice tests, birthday parties and after school projects are also canceled! The kids are starting to hate school now, it's like a nightmare, even Mrs. Woods tried to talk some sense into the principle. The kids can't stand it anymore, but everyone have their own reason for getting a good score on the test. That is when Scott thought of a genius plan to help everyone get a good score on the test...

One of the main characters in the story called Randi reminds me of how in the real world, a lot of the kids are under their parents' pressures to be the best.
Profile Image for Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*.
6,001 reviews185 followers
December 17, 2017
Buyea, Rob The Perfect Score, 355 pgs. Delacourt (Penguin), 2017. $16.99. Language: G (0 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (some disturbing bullying).

It’s finally 6th grade - middle school - and the kids are excited, but old Mrs. Wood is their teacher. Much to their surprise, she knows just what’s right for her students - academically she’s inspiring and she’s got even the hard kids under control. Told from the viewpoint of 5 members of the class: Randi whose mother wants her to be a gymnast more than Randi does - the nightly practices are affecting her grades; Scott who is smart and has a really big heart, but his great ideas often backfire and he doesn’t have any friends; Natalie wants to be a lawyer like her parents; Gavin likes football, but struggles with reading - now if he doesn’t perform well on the state tests he can’t be on the team next year; and Trevor who is the class bully and attitude problem - well, his home life is difficult as he struggles with his mean brother and his “goons” who bully him at home. This year the state tests are so important there are outside administrators changing things about when and what the teachers teach, and whether or not the students get recess, have parties or get to listen to book read aloud. If they do well on the tests, things will get back to normal. What if cheating is the only way for everyone to pass?

In today’s educational system, we don’t always see the impact of the emphasis we place on the importance of passing state tests. This is an important story that should be read by both students and teachers. Although the students are young, this is a great middle school read.

EL, MS - ESSENTIAL Lisa Librarian
Profile Image for Angie.
3,624 reviews44 followers
April 5, 2018
We hear from five different students during their sixth grade year in this new book from Rob Buyea. Gavin is a football nut who has a hard time with reading. Randi is a gymnast who is pressured by her mother. Natalie wants to be a lawyer like her parents. Scott is a goofy kid who only wants to help others. Trevor gets bullied by his older brother and bullies others because of it.

Mrs. Woods is pulled out of retirement to be their teacher and the kids actually love her. She reads aloud to them and allows no nonsense from anyone. She is sharp and a great teacher. They are also taught by Ms. Magenta who is a creative free spirit and starts a service club. The kids get to work at the library and a local retirement home. Things are going great until the school starts prepping for testing. Recess is cancelled and there are no more read alouds. School is no longer fun and no one is happy including Mrs. Woods and Ms. Magenta. So the kids come up with a plan that doesn't go quite according to plan.

This is typical Buyea style with multiple perspectives and diverse kids. I enjoyed the connections that were created throughout the story with the kids, the parents, the teachers and others they meet. There is a lot of good stuff here about the power of good teachers, reading, bullying and community engagement. I loved the retirement home scenes and Scott is a scene stealer for sure. The multiple perspectives do leave you wanting a bit more from the characters, but it is still a great book even if it is about testing!
Profile Image for Kristen.
1,798 reviews29 followers
August 9, 2018
God bless Rob Buyea for writing a scathing indictment of standartized testing disguised as an emotional, adorable middle grade novel.

Though group-narrated books are not normally me favorite, Buyea's Because of Mr. Terupt is one of my go-to middle grade novels. And I actually liked this one better.

The kid narrators have definite personalities and voices and are easy to tell apart. Students will definitely find themselves in one of the characters, along with friends and not-so-friendly classmates. But every student has a story, and sometimes what's going on outside of school is just as important as what's going on in school.

Also--as a teacher, it's wonderful to see different kinds of teachers portrayed positively. Mrs. Woods is old-school (think gray hair and projectors), while Ms. Magenta is young and free-spirited. And yet they are both presented as good teachers with strengths and weaknesses who clearly love their students. And the emphasis on reading throughout the entire book makes this librarian's heart swell.

This would make a fabulous read aloud. Maybe in spring. You know, around testing time... ;)
Profile Image for Scott Fillner.
266 reviews35 followers
April 20, 2017
All the things we've come to know about Rob's writing (Well developed characters, heartwarming tale, etc...) are found in the pages of this novel.

Besides a wonderful story, with many different gems and words of wisdom, you'll find many #bookdrops. #Bookdrops are where authors mention works by other authors, which ultimately give you pathways to other wonderful pieces of literature.

I highly recommend Rob's book to any student in upper elementary or entering middle school. It will be well worth your time when it comes out in October 2017.
Profile Image for Julie.
1,387 reviews
October 15, 2017
I was given a review copy from RHCB. The Perfect Score is told through the voices of 5 students in 6th grade. While they are all different, they share their universal dislike for the CBA standardized tests coming up.
The book is told in a similar short chapter, switching voices technique from Buyea's previous Mr. Terupt books. I personally yearn for a little more emotional connection with the characters, but I thinks it's a great choice for upper elementary or middle school students. However, I doubt 8-9th graders would like reading about kids younger than them.
Profile Image for Lorie Barber.
557 reviews36 followers
June 11, 2017
A book that all kids and teens can relate to (and will LOVE) about doing the wrong thing for the right reasons. I absolutely adored every second of this book, written in classic Buyea multi-point-of-view style. The characters are beautifully developed, with their own unique voices shining through. The problems were multi-layered, sometimes subtle, and provide great moral dilemmas about which kids and adults will think deeply. A must-add to any middle grade library.
Profile Image for Lenka.
52 reviews
December 21, 2017
I absolutely LOVED this book!!!!! I really liked the different perspectives. All the characters had a deeper meaning, and Rob Buyea did an excellent job showing that. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes the Mr. Terupt series, although it doesn't connect. It was very well written, and many cliff hangers and deep questions. I really loved this book and I think everyone should read this!!!
Profile Image for Susan.
467 reviews3 followers
January 10, 2019
Evan really enjoyed this book and gave it 4.5 stars. And, he’s already asked for the 2nd book in the series!!
Profile Image for Kirsten Jimenez.
10 reviews
October 8, 2022
I loved this book! The characters were fairly diverse personality-wise and Buyea's inclusion of different hidden family struggles really added to the intrigue and suspense--as well as relatability.
The way the author has multiple diverse narrators showcases each characters' complex feelings, motivations, and perspectives on the same events. Specifically, my favorite character was Scott, as he made for a lovable goofball with a big heart and good intentions despite his actions usually resulting in humorous chaos. Trevor took on the role of a misunderstood bully and I really appreciated Buyea's intentional character development with each character (including those who weren't narrators), but especially with Trevor in particular. In the end, each character learned a valuable lesson in life which really resonated with me. In addition, the author's foreshadowing was clever and kept me engaged! It felt a little predictable as I was able to guess every hidden turn and secret as soon as it was even developed/hinted at but it made for a satisfactory plot and reveal.
Profile Image for Laura Cannon.
173 reviews
April 14, 2019
An exceptional book for middle schoolers with it's character development, point of view and small incidents that build the plot. It also deals with the very serious issue of too much testing and pressure of state tests in schools today. So it should also be read by state educational leaders as well as administrators and teachers!!
Profile Image for Mina.
5 reviews
March 26, 2019
This isnt about the book but i am so proud of myself ive read like 8 books so far that is a record for me yay me
15 reviews1 follower
March 23, 2018
I think the theme in this book is that you must work through your problems and you you can over come anything. I think this because the main characters face many problems but are able to overcome them and everything works out.
164 reviews
November 23, 2017
Good book, I really liked all the characters, but I liked Scott and Natalie especially cause I can mostly relate to them-because I sometimes do things that cause big trouble. IDK TBH, but Scott and Natalie are the two that are my favorite, but the rest are gr8 as well.
Profile Image for Sarah.
131 reviews
October 7, 2021


Did I want to read this book when it first came out? Not really. BUT when I finished the MR. TERUPT series, I needed more books by Rob Buyea, so I picked this up and am SO GLAD I DID

It deals with heavy topics such as child abuse (verbally and physically), poverty, standardized tests, dementia, bullying, loneliness, pressure, learning disorders, etc.

I’m gonna talk about the characters in slight depth because they are just so great.

Randi’s a gifted gymnast who’s mom, Jane, puts LOTS AND LOTS of pressure on her. In school and in gymnastics.

Gavin’s a kid who hopes to one day be a football player. His family isn’t in the best spot; his mom is an immigrant from Mexico and works two jobs, and his dad dropped out of high school to save the family business. Not to mention that he’s struggling with dyslexia.

Scott’s a super smart kid who has the biggest heart and just the best of intentions and always wants to help, but he doesn’t have the best common sense, so his “brilliant plans” never turn out the way he plans.

Natalie’s an aspiring lawyer and a straight-A student, but is ostracized and widely disliked by all the kids at school - especially Gavin.

You know that one kid who seems all tough and mean and is kind of a bully, but then you find out that they’re being abused at home or something? Well, that’s Trevor, and his story is heartbreaking.

Perfect for fans of Rob Buyea's previous books, Disney’s GIRL MEETS WORLD, and R.J. Palacio's WONDER

Anyway, I highly recommend this book, and thanks for coming to my ramble
Profile Image for Sarah.
1,700 reviews42 followers
March 6, 2018
Five students, two teachers, one standardized exam, but alas, no partridge in a pear tree...
As a teacher myself I dig school novels. I like reading about teachers whom I wish to emulate. I just plain like the world of academia. Like his earlier works, Rob Buyea's latest novel offers both. Told from five different students' points of view, The Perfect Score chronicles the lives of these kiddos and the atmosphere at their middle school leading up to the annual standardized testing. Each child is dealing with pressures both inside and outside the walls of Lake View Middle School. The push to score well on the exam leads to each student making the decision to do just that, even if it means their actions are not exactly on the up and up.
I found something compelling about each of the narrators. Additionally, I really dug their primary educator's teaching style. She makes it seem so easy! (Wish it came that naturally to me.) Although the story and ending seem far fetched, it was nonetheless an enjoyable read and one I think middle grade students would resonate with.
Couple of notes: Personally, I would love to share this with students but I don't think it would work well as a read aloud because of the format. It is generally clear from which student's point of view the story is being told but it might be confusing for listeners. Probably better suited for a class novel. Secondly, Scott, one of the characters, is different, for lack of a better word. He exhibits signs of both social maturity delays and academic brilliance. Could be fodder for opening classroom dialogue about acceptance and judgement.
Profile Image for Jana.
2,591 reviews37 followers
October 3, 2017
I had the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book through my #BookRelays team on Twitter. I think this is a terrific book for all teachers to read as it takes a critical look at our high stakes testing culture from the point of view of five different students at Lakeview Middle School. The narrative starts at the beginning of sixth grade for these students. They’re dealing with the stress of starting Middle School, along with troubles at home, new teachers, bullying, and new teachers. As the pressures build for these kids, more and more of the only things that they like about school are being taken away from them: recess, read aloud time, independent/choice reading time, and after-school activities. Everyone involved (students, teachers, administrators) needs to have these kids ace their state test. So, the temptation to cheat is huge. I think that this book could generate some terrific discussions in classrooms about assessments, treating others with kindness, and what motivates kids to do their best. I love the character development in this book and the way the storylines connect to each other.
Profile Image for Lesley.
379 reviews
December 7, 2017
There are problems all around in Miss Woods' sixth grade. Bullies come in all ages and sizes—Randi's mom Jane bullies her about gymnastics and schoolwork hoping for a future scholarship; Trevor's brother bullies him, so Trevor bullies his classmates. Gavin has trouble reading and is embarrassed of parents who did not graduate high school. Scott has a big heart which always gets him into trouble. Mark's dad is on the school board and Mark feels he has to take care of Trevor. And Natalie, an aspiring lawyer, tries to always be in the right but as she sees from one of her mother's cases, this is not always possible. With the help of their two teachers who have their own personal problems, these classmates band together as The Recruits and face off against the biggest bully of all, the standardized test.
Each chapter is narrated by one of these students, demonstrating perspective but also providing an opportunity for a Reader's Theater read aloud of the novel. Or students could read this book in lit circles, each lit circle tracking one of the students.
Profile Image for sarah ツ.
160 reviews
May 29, 2020
4.75 stars!

This book was so very similar to Because of Mr. Terupt and the rest. Very similar format but very original characters as well. It made my heart ache and made me tear up. I really loved this and I'm debating whether or not to finish the trilogy.

I had a few minor complaints that subtracted the 1/4 of a star off this book. First, I felt that the character named Scott wasn't very realistic. This was more of a personal complaint, as I can't imagine a sixth-grader boy with so much self-esteem that they would act as he did in the book. It just doesn't seem....real. Also, the ending was too pristine. It was too good and happy that it felt unreal. Everyone's family problems were solved, they found out Mrs. Woods' "big secret" and I felt it needed some more sadness or something. That was just something I often noticed and I thought I'd mention it.
Profile Image for Shirley Freeman.
1,134 reviews11 followers
April 3, 2017
As an adult who thinks the standardized testing craze is crazy, I loved this middle grade book. Told from the perspective of five new 6th graders, this one had me in tears at the end. At first I thought the characters were too simplistic but as the story unfolds, each character becomes more nuanced. All of the kids face pressure of some sort in their daily lives but all are unexpectedly enjoying their new teachers - especially old, brought-out-of-retirement Mrs. Woods. But as the date for the all-important CSA test approaches, more and more of the joys of learning get taken away so the kids can take reams of practice tests. Bad choices are made - even if for the best of reasons. But all is sorted out at the end. Great story - I loved all the references to great read-aloud books. I will be interested to see how the book is received by middle grade readers. It was a pleasure to read the ARC for this book to be published in October.
Profile Image for LeeAnne.
399 reviews15 followers
December 14, 2017
This is a wonderful middle grade book that follows the 6th grade year of Gavin and his best friend Randi, his nemesis Natalie, Scott the outsider, and two too-big-for-their-britches best friends, Trevor and Mark.

A new teacher, brought back from retirement after an unexpected vacancy, has taken over their 6th grade classroom, and she’s not only old, she’s old-school. Most of the kids are able to adjust and learn to like many of the things she is doing, until she has to consume a lot of their time with test-prep for the CSAs. The students learn to hate school and come up with a plan that may land them all in a lot of trouble, but may just bring the entire group together as friends. Should they do the wrong thing for the right reasons? If they do, are they prepared for the consequences?

Many dynamic characters makeup this book that would be good for lit circles or class novels. The chapters are devoted to each student’s point of view and would be easy to characterize.
Profile Image for Linda Bargas.
190 reviews2 followers
June 25, 2017
When this hits the shelves in October, read it. Working in elementary school, I read novels for all ages. The Perfect Score delves into the typical YA territory of exploring friendship, bullying, pressures, and struggles with parents and siblings. However, authored by a teacher, the varying storylines are brought together superbly to create a vivid, fast-paced novel that sharply questions "teaching to the test." While the main characters are 6th graders, it also smartly touches on aging and dementia, the legal system, parent-child relationships both as pre-teens and adults, sibling abuse, and I'm pretty sure children with Asperger's. In short, this book was a phenomenal page turner.

After reading the other reviews, looks like this is classic format for the author. I will definitely read up on him!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jill.
607 reviews61 followers
December 26, 2017
From the author of the Because of Mr. Terupt series. Starting 6th grade in the middle school is hard enough as it is, but then add the pressure of standardized testing and the stress can be too hard to handle. Told in multiple perspectives of five students in Mrs. Wood's classroom: Randi the gymnast, Gavin the football fan, Trevor who hates school, Scott with a big heart, and Natalie the aspiring lawyer. The entire school is worried and anxious about the approaching standardized tests. Mrs. Woods is back from retirement and doesn't understand all of the preparation and worksheets that must be done to get students ready for the test. The true meaning of a perfect score is depicted along with themes of bullying, pressures of select sports, and teamwork. Great book for fans of Absolutely Almost, Posted, and Andrew Clements books.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 308 reviews

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