Thesis Title

Understanding Factors That Influence Academic Performance in Tenth Grade Students

Graduation Date

Summer 2011

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Science

Program Name


Program Director

Madeliene Peters, EdD


This study examines factors contributing to the poor academic performance of tenth grade high school students. Throughout my eight years teaching experience at this grade level, the one constant from class to class and year-to year is the academic decline. This decline typically starts at the end of ninth grade, becomes obvious and serious in tenth and then starts to wane as eleventh grade progresses.

The most deficient students tend to leave school for either credit recovery programs, alternative schools, or they just drop out altogether. The research goal is to identify the factors that contribute to this decline and work towards instituting change in the classroom to prevent what has become inevitable.

High school students from an affluent suburban community in the San Francisco Bay Area participated in a focus group. They were asked to identify the factors that contributed to either their poor academic performance or that of their peers. Also, they were asked to identify the elements that made them successful. Results indicated that having a driver’s license or a friend with a driver’s license gave them freedom and access to parties, drugs, and alcohol.

In a small classroom teachers had time to interact with them on a personal basis, where they really felt as if the teacher cared. In this case they felt they did not want to disappoint their teacher. Poor academic performance contributes to the issues relating to the achievement gap and the drop out rate and therefore deserves a closer look.

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