Students earn points (grades), gain levels (grades), and in a way, have leaderboards. There are class valedictorians and students are essentially ranked based on their grades when colleges are deciding who to accept. Currently, the typical grading system in schools has students starting off with a 100 average, which slowly (or quickly, depending on the student’s performance) gets lower and lower as the student receives anything less than a 100 on any assignments, tests, etc.
This system is subtractive, i.e. as a student achieves anything less than perfect, they are punished with a decrease in score. A subtractive grading system punishes students for taking risks and stifles creativity. Students tend to be taught a specific way to perform a task, and if students try to problem solve in another way and fail (which is a core part of the learning process), they are punished with a lower grade. Therefore, students are less likely to try thinking outside of the box.