The United States economy is the strongest in the world. Since that is so, you would expect that United States students are the best in math, since education is correlated to the economy. However, many people are baffled as to why students in the United States seem to do worse at math than students in other countries around the world.
The United States is the 39th in the world at math when it comes to the PISA test. However, researchers think that it is not because students in the United States are not competent, just that they are not motivated enough to do well. They did research by giving out fake PISA tests. By these fake tests, they gave half of the students in different schools money. They said that they would take away $1 for every incorrect answer. In the end, the students that were bribed did well. In fact, researchers say that if there was enough motivation, the United States would move up 20 places on the list of countries in regards to math.
Now, you might think that you can do this trick in other countries as well and the students there will also do better in math. However, researchers did the same study in China. There, students who were bribed did not do better than the students were not bribed.
The truth is that the PISA tests do not have any real consequences for students. It does not help them get into college. Students cannot even see their scores. That is why students are so unmotivated to do well on this test.
Although previous studies have shown that bribing kids with money does not help them improve their performance, there are ways that it does help. For example, in this study, students were giving money right away and then threatened with losing it if they did poorly.