The following post was written by Roger Madison. It originally appears on Black Star Journal, under the title of , “Let’s Close the Achievement Gap: No More Excuses.”

By: Roger Madison

I am tired of listening to excuses.

I am quite frankly puzzled by the growing achievement gaps in testing results that we read about among Black students. It appears to me that someone hoodwinked many Black people into believing that we cannot perform well on tests. We must teach our students that “life requires you to pass all sorts of tests every day.”

When challenged to excellence, what I am seeing is a roll out of all the excuses. I am tired of listening to excuses. If we truly want our children to escape a future of permanent underclass status, we need to challenge them from the time they begin to speak to become “learners” who are prepared at any moment to prove that they have learned what they must know to succeed.

We live in the Information Age, where knowledge is power.

In this fast-paced world, you need to be who you say you are, and you must prove that you know what you say you know.

Let me give you a few examples:

If you want to be a lawyer, you must pass the Bar exam.
If you want to be an accountant (CPA), you must pass the CPA exam.
If you want to be a doctor, you must pass a state medical exam.
If you want to be a Registered Nurse, or Practical Nurse, you must pass a course of study and many exams.
If you want to be an engineer, you must pass an exam.
If you want to be an airplane pilot, you must pass exams regularly to remain certified.
If you want to design video games, you must pass exams to become a certified Software Developer.
If you want to be a teacher, you must pass exams.
If you want to be a builder, plumber, electrician, or architect, you must pass many exams.
If you want to join the military services, you must pass an exam.
If you want a driver’s license, you must pass an exam.
In fact, most meaningful careers require the passing of many exams. So, if we want our children to succeed, we must teach them that they will be tested, and that they must do well.

That’s what the Asians, Hispanics, and even our African immigrant families do with their children. How is that we have been in this country for 400 years, and yet lag all other minority groups? This is not something we can blame entirely on the white man. In the 21st century — in the Information Age — the most freely available commodities are education, knowledge, and access to information.

Only uneducated street corner hustlers and criminals don’t need to pass knowledge-based exams. Their fate is to spend most of their adult lives in prison, or in poverty.

I have seen theories about “Learning While Black.” I have heard the protests about “Culturally Biased Tests.” I have heard the pronouncements that we Black folks are “not deficient; just different.” I believe that we are being tricked into explaining away poor performance.

Let me explain. When we convince our children that they cannot test well, when we complain about “teaching to the test”, when we advocate eliminating or changing the criteria for learning (dumbing down performance and raising grades), we are simply pushing our way to the back of the bus all over again.

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