The MAEOPP Best Education Practice Center identifies, validates, and disseminates practical activities and approaches to improve success of students who are low-income, first-generation, and historically underrepresented in education. During this pilot period, the focus is with practices from members of the Mid-America Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel (MAEOPP). Rather that looking to others for solutions, the federally funded MAEOPP grant programs have the expertise needed. The key is sharing it more widely and comprehensively with each other. The co-sponsors for the Center are MAEOPP and the University of Minnesota.
Quick History of the MAEOPP Center. For decades, leaders like Clark Chipman, former regional administrator for the Department of Education, and David Arendale, former president of the National Association for Developmental Education, advocated for a one-stop shop to locate education practices that had undergone rigorous evaluation by an external expert panel to validate their effectiveness. A quick search of the Department of Education website or even the online ERIC database reveal little to guide effective practices. During the past three years, Clark Chipman and David Arendale worked with MAEOPP to develop a pilot center for these purposes to highlight effective practices from TRIO and other education opportunity programs administered by MAEOPP members. The MAEOPP Center became operational in 2011. A partnership between MAEOPP and the University of Minnesota operates the pilot best education practices center.
A precedent for a national information dissemination program existed for several decades in the Education Department's Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI). Within OERI was the Program Effectiveness Panel (PEP). PEP reviewed educational practices submitted by educators. Through a rigorous evaluation process, some practices were "validated." These validated practices were disseminated to the education community. OERI's National Diffusion Network (NDN) provided grants to a selected number of PEP certified programs for national dissemination. Due to budget cuts, both PEP and NDN were eliminated in the mid-1990s. The MAEOPP Best Education Practices Center is unique since the NDN focused nearly exclusively on curriculum and pedagogy at the elementary and secondary level. Instead, this Center focuses on first-generation and historically underrepresented students meeting eligibility guidelines for TRIO programs at the secondary and postsecondary level. The same validation process could also be applied to other federally funded programs to identity promising and best practices.