An entire host of reasons are at work when children behave inappropriately or fail to meet a passing standard. In fact, there probably are as many factors as there are struggling students. However, by grouping factors according to sources, you can begin to identify where specific performance factors come from and how they intertwine with each other.
Some reasons for poor performance are specific to the students and not related to external factors. For example, a learning disability is student-centered and may create an obstacle to reaching certain academic standards. Motivation also can play a factor in poor performance. A student may be fully capable of earning high grades but might simply not care enough about education to exert the effort. Issues of motivation could be placed upon the parents or even the school, but sometimes a child simply does not enjoy learning.
Teachers play a significant role in student performance and also can be responsible for poor student performance. For example, if a teacher lacks experience or is dispassionate about teaching, the children might not be able to develop comprehensive understandings of the subject material. Furthermore, if the teacher suffers from a classroom management problem -- such as extreme authoritarianism -- the classroom environment might hinder fruitful class discussions and collaborative learning. It also can deter students from applying themselves to the best of their abilities.
Schools themselves can be contributing factors to low student performance. For example, the state of Florida responded to low scores on the FCAT -- the state's standard achievement test -- by lowering the passing standard so more students could pass. In a situation like this, students then have to put forth less effort because the expectations placed upon them have been lowered. Furthermore, school funding can play a role as well. In schools that can't afford more teachers or building expansions, classes sometimes become overcrowded to the point that teachers have to spend more time on classroom management than on teaching, which can result in lower student performance.
Finally, family-related factors can play a critical role in a student's academic performance. For instance, when parents either don't care or are too busy to care about their children's performance, the kids can lose their academic focus. Furthermore, living in poverty also can distract a child from academics because survival becomes a more immediate and pressing priority. Both of these examples include situations in which the parents are not intentionally harming a child's education, but such cases still can impact the problem. In extreme examples, if a parent or other family member is abusive, that situation easily can consume a student's attention and cause his or her academic performance to decline dramatically.