I'm incline to agree with FatFreddysCat.
I never really took school all that seriously especially grade school through high school. It was something we were forced to go to.
There was a lot of social "games", bullying, and "politics" involving the various cliques. Most of the classes being taught never felt like they had any real world relevance. I've never had to use Algebra, chemistry, or a whole host of other subjects taught in school to do my job effectively.
I also think there is an overall assumption that grade point averages are a reflection of intelligence instead of possible (lack of effort)! When people don't "care" they don't put in much effort!
I suspect there have been many students who've taken multiple choice exams and started filling in A, B, C, D, or E without bothering to read the questions! Whether the child scores high or low you have know indication what they (know).
To be honest with you I was never aware that we were "competing" for top G.P.A. Had I known I would have chosen not to take classes like chemistry, physics, geometry, or trigonometry. In my era they didn't give you any extra consideration for the "level of difficulty" for one's class curriculum. Someone taking a basic math course and earned an A while another took Geometry and earned a C meant the basic math student had a higher GPA.
I could have "front loaded" my GPA with less challenging courses.
However I believe the biggest failure with high school education is it does not spend enough time teaching students things they could use like personal investing, stock market, real estate, banking/loans for business.
Juniors & Seniors should have local company representatives come in to talk about careers and requirements as well as have field trips to their locations and along with a tours of a major college campuses.
The best way to inspire students is to dangle "the promise of tomorrow" in front of them often. One of the main problems with youth is immaturity.
When we're young most of us lack the vision or mindset to think beyond NOW. Going to school just for the education alone is not a key motivator.
If you could show kids that school can lead to financial success and inspire them by having successful people come speak to their classes or tour a mansion odds are you'd have more kids taking school more seriously. They would look at as a stepping to stone to accomplishing their financial goals rather than something they (have to do). This would be especially helpful to underprivileged students whose parents may not have degrees or high paying jobs.