FOURTEEN year old, Joy Kathure Kinoti from Fred's Academy in Meru's Imenti North led the rest of the country in the 2012 KCPE.
And for the first time, a 50-50 gender balance between the boys and girls who sat for the exam was achieved in most counties.
Joy, who was at home watching television as Education minister Mutula Kilonzo released the results, could not believe her ears when he read out her name. She attained 430 marks out of a possible 500 marks.
Also attaining similar marks were Boniface Mwaura from Utafiti day and boarding school in Kikuyu and Wachira Njomo from Uthiru Genesis school along Naivasha road in Kiambu.
Joy, the last born in her family and whose favorite subjects are Mathematics and English, hopes to join Alliance Girls high school and eventually study to be an engineer.
Kilonzo said that while the results recorded indicated a general improvement, the top mark was a drop compared to the 2011 KCPE results where the top students-- Christine Kagiri from Happyland preparatory school in Buruburu and Martin Irungu from Moi Educational centre in Nairobi tied with 442 marks.
A total of 811, 930 candidates sat for the KCPE exams in 2012. Boys still dominated girls in the top ten although the latter still put an impressive fight in the overall top 100 best candidates. There are 4 girls in the top ten against 7 boys.
But in the top 100 which had several candidates in tying positions there were 61 girls (49.59 percent) as compared to 62 boys representing 50.41 percent.
Unlike in the past, 36 out of the 47 counties recorded a 50-50 gender balance. Overall, more girls than boys sat for the 2012 KCPE examination.
He said more and more girls were registering for the examinations than the boys. The increase in the number of girls was 5.57 per cent compared to 3.9 per cent for the boys.
While this was commendable, Kilonzo said there was need for concern to address the situation. "If this trend persists, gender disparities in favour of girls nationally may become a reality, thus endangering the gains made in the education of the boy child," Kilonzo said.
Private academies once again retained the tradition of taking most of the top 20 positions. This trend was present in most counties where private academies led the results tables.
The competition among the private schools was evident as some of them which have traditionally led the pack were this time dislodged by newcomers. In Nairobi Newlight of Komarock edged off Makini.
Other top performing private schools include Gilgil Hills Academy, Bungoma's Marrel Academy and Fred's academy in Meru and Chelsa Academy in Bomet.
Parents, students and teachers from these schools will be waiting anxiously to see whether their top performing students will get a chance at gaining admission to the country's top national schools.
Yesterday, Kilonzo said the Form One selection which is due next Monday will be done "strictly on merit, choice of schools by the candidates and proportionate sharing of available places between public and private candidates in a district.
He said he will give further direction on the how the selection would be done on Monday. The Form One selection last year was fraught with confusion and allegations that students from public schools were being given preference over private school students even though the latter had attained better marks.
The minister also announced that the ministry was trying to create new parameters for ranking away from relying only on examination performance only.
The parameters will include school leadership and governance, co-curricular activities , school infrastructure, physical facilities, environment management, peace and integration ,friendliness of the school, Principal of the year award and also a similar teacher award.
He said a team of experts reviewing the curriculum was working on how the ranking would be done that includes how talents and other vital skills and attributes can be included in the curriculum for assessment by KNEC in future.