Data-driven plays an important role in determining the quality of services in institutions of higher learning (HEIs). Increasingly data in education is encouraging institutions to find ways to improve student academic performance. By using machine learning with visual analytics, data can be predicted based on valuable information and presented with interactive visualizations for institutions to improve decision making. Therefore, predicting students’ academic performance is critical to identifying students at risk of failing a course. In this paper, we propose two approaches, such as (i) a prediction model for predicting students’ final grade based on machine learning that interacts with computational models; (ii) visual analytics to visualize predictive models and insightful data for educators. The data were tested using student achievement records collected from one of the Malaysian Polytechnic databases. The data set used in this study involved 489 first semester students in Computer System Architecture (CSA) course from 2016 to 2019. The decision tree algorithms (J48), Random Tree (RT), Random Forest (RF), and REPTree) was used on the student data set to produce the best predictions of the model. Experimental results show that J48 returns the highest accuracy with 99.8 %, among other algorithms. The findings of this study can help educators predict student success or failure for a particular course at the end of the semester and help educators make informed decisions to improve student academic performance at Polytechnic Malaysia.