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Priscilla Little of HFRP reviews Supplementary Education,¹ a new compilation of essays and papers edited by Edmund Gordon, Beatrice Bridglall, and Aundra Saa Meroe.²

Supplementary Education: The Hidden Curriculum of High Academic Achievement, a new book co-edited by Edmund Gordon, Beatrice Bridglall, and Aundra Saa Meroe, makes a compelling case that schooling, while necessary, is not suffi cient for high academic achievement. Inequity in access to nonschool supports, the editors argue, both limits the effectiveness of schools and perpetuates a chronic achievement gap, especially for lowincome and ethnic minority students. As a remedy, they propose that all students should have access to “supplementary education” opportunities, or formal and informal opportunities for enriched learning and development provided outside of school and beyond the regular school day or year.

This book complements this issue of The Evaluation Exchange: like Gordon, who reflects on his 60-year career in education, we reflect on our 20-plus years of experience, arriving at similar conclusions regarding the key principles of supplementary—or complementary—learning. These are discussed below.

1. Children and youth need access to a variety of nonschool experiences to supplement in-school learning. Gordon posits that an educated person has intellective competence, defined as “the metacognitive command of affective, cognitive, and situative processes to access, know, understand, interpret, and utilize knowledge and technique” (p. 11). Examples include literacy and numeracy, analogical reasoning, and movement from knowledge to understanding. Gordon and colleagues argue that serious disparities exist in intellective competence across social divisions such as class, ethnicity, gender, and language profi ciency. These disparities in intellective competence—and therefore high achievement—are related to access to, and community investment in, many forms of capital, including cultural, financial, political, and social. The achievement gap is therefore not a problem of schooling alone but also of these disparities.

2. Children's needs are best addressed when formal school-day curricula and “informal” supports such as after school programs and other productive learning opportunities are coordinated. Gordon and colleagues base their idea of supplementary education on the premise that, in addition to proficiency with a school's formal academic curriculum, high academic achievement is closely linked with exposure to family- and community-based activities and learning experiences that occur outside of school, such as after school programs that provide academic instruction, recreational activities, and engagement with families. For most students of color, these supplementary education offerings are generally underdeveloped or unavailable.

The authors assert that nonschool supports, including families, are central mechanisms for delivering supplementary educational opportunities. Further, they provide concrete examples of how the different contexts in which young people grow and develop can complement one another and support in-school learning. The authors, for example, call on parents to help young people make good decisions about after school time and to act as advocates on their children's behalf.

3. Parallel systems of supplementary education can enhance school-day learning. Throughout the book are placed-based examples of supplementary education, such as Maitrayee Bhattacharyya's case study of Koreatown, a mixed-income neighborhood in Los Angeles³ where the community created a system of nonschool supports that coexists with schools and provides extracurricular and academic supports after school and in the summer. Koreatown's 295 supplementary-education programs range from early childhood care and education to college preparation. While no formal evaluation has been conducted of the Koreatown supplementary-education system, Bhattacharyya suggests that participation in this parallel education system is linked to higher school attendance and performance. Further, she posits that supplementary-education initiatives such as Koreatown can facilitate transitions from home to school and from one grade to the next, and that integration across supports is important for these transitions.

In conclusion, Gordon points out a possible additional lesson from Koreatown. Most of the supplementary services offered in that community involved payment from user families; Gordon suggests that a family's investment in supplementary-education services may be critical to children's success, as investment conveys to children the message that their families are willing to make sacrifices on their behalf. That awareness, Gordon suggests, may be as important as participation in the actual service.

In the book's foreword, James Comer comments that “supplementary education is not at issue because it is new; rather, it is problematic because such experiences are not available to many of the children for whom schooling is of limited effectiveness” (p. viii). It is thinking like that of Edmund Gordon and the other authors in this book that can bring supplementary education into the spotlight and create a more level playing field for success for all children.

¹ Gordon, E. W., Bridglall, B. L., & Meroe, A. S. (2004). Supplementary education: The hidden curriculum of high academic achievement. Lanham, MD: Rowman &
² Edmund W. Gordon is a professor emeritus of psychology and education and directs the Institute of Urban and Minority Education (IUME) at Teachers College, Columbia University; he also is a professor emeritus of psychology at Yale University. Beatrice L. Bridglall is assistant director of the IUME, and Aundra Saa Meroe is a postdoctoral research scientist at the College Board and a research associate at IUME.
³ Thirty-five percent of Koreatown’s households earn less than $15,000 per year; approximately 1/3 of the youth in that community live in poverty.

Priscilla Little, Associate Director, HFRP

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