Seizing the Meauxment for Statewide Education Attainment in Louisiana
The Louisiana Board of Regents is a CAEL member, as are all of Louisiana’s public postsecondary institutions, so it’s no surprise that the board prioritizes principles and outcomes that resonate with the CAEL community. They begin and end with a statewide attainment goal that stands out, not just as a completion metric but as a model for a complete view of student success. The goal envisions 60% of all working-age adults—25 to 64 years old—holding a degree or high-value credential by 2030.
As any CAEL member can affirm, helping adults take on the challenges of complex education-employment pathways is itself a challenge. Dr. Tristan Denley, Deputy Commissioner for Academic Affairs and Innovation, shared how the board is applying the Meauxmentum Framework to make that challenge more manageable for each campus of Louisiana’s 33 public colleges and universities. The framework has three foundational strands: equity, resources and learning mindsets. It also has four structural threads: choices, pathways, milestones and engagement. I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Denley to learn more about the Meauxmentum Framework and how it is working to realize Louisiana’s Master Plan for Public Postsecondary Education, Louisiana Prospers.
Much like CAEL’s Allies Framework, the Meauxmentum Framework uses research-grounded best practices to support a theory of change that any postsecondary education and training provider can apply. Underscoring that the framework is both foundational and flexible, the board launched the framework with a summit earlier this year. The February event brought together executive leadership from every campus in the state. It established a cooperative atmosphere that provided guidance while honoring each institution’s identity as it adopted plans to integrate the framework.
The framework is grounded in data from throughout the United States, including Dr. Denley’s own earlier work in Tennessee and Georgia, to refocus postsecondary priorities through the lens of learners. For example, full-time students are much more likely to complete than part-time students, even when success rates account for other variables. Dr. Denley notes that students, especially adult learners, often want to take more classes but can’t because of factors like class scheduling or modality. The framework guides campuses in taking on structural issues like these that might be derailing students’ educational pathways.
But before students can find success along a pathway, they must choose one. The framework acknowledges the difficulty of making complex education and training choices and the consequences of failing to navigate them. Students often end up in a program by default or remain undecided. But persistence without purpose is difficult. Data show that such students are at a much higher risk of not completing. The framework’s choices strand helps campuses build flexibility into programs. The objective is that, as students advance along pathways, they learn more about themselves and their aspirations to branch off to new possibilities rather than facing dead ends.
The framework has already guided policy changes that are making it easier for learners to embark upon—or return to—postsecondary pathways. Well-documented data show that completing college-level learning during high school boosts college graduation rates. Dual enrollment and AP credits are direct demonstrations of college success, yet they were not included among college entrance standards but eclipsed by non-college metrics such as high school GPAs and standardized test scores. Today, they are formally recognized as pathways to college admissions.
For students who aren’t quite ready for college-level learning, the framework has delivered another data-backed policy change. Traditionally, such students were required to take prerequisite developmental math and English courses. The motivation was sound. Students who complete a math and English course in their first year of college are five to ten times more likely to graduate. However, only about 10 to 20% of students who enroll in a prerequisite class go on to complete a college-level course. Under the corequisite model, students enroll in the same credit-bearing class as their peers, while taking a concurrent support class. The impact on outcomes is profound. Students enrolled in a corequisite class are about six times more likely to earn their math or English credits than those enrolled in requisite classes. This fall, the board replaced the prerequisite model for math students at all public institutions in Louisiana. The board plans to implement the corequisite model for English courses next year.
On the other end of the spectrum, one might describe many adult learners as over-prepared for college, given the wealth of experiential learning they bring to the classroom. To improve their postsecondary pathways, the framework embraces credit for prior learning. Dr. Denley credits the board’s partnership with CAEL for helping build what he describes as one of the most effective CPL policies in the country. But his broader point about the framework is that, regardless of whether students are beginning or resuming their postsecondary journeys, institutions must increase and diversify pathways to academic goals—from short-term credentials to advanced degrees.
As the framework helps more students progress along their chosen pathways, it is also helping the board chart new ways to support institutions. As Dr. Denley pointed out in our conversation, the framework is distinct in two complementary ways: the first is pointing out the things that higher education can do to make a difference in student success, and the second is knitting together these different strands and threads across campuses into an overall coordinated strategy. Since its launch, the framework has embraced yet another principle near and dear to CAEL members: an Academy-style community of practice. Remaining engaged with the individual campus plans that emerged during the inaugural Meauxmentum Summit, the board has designed technical assistance and collaborative events for faculty and staff that allow institutions to continually learn from each other.
The diversity of these institutions shows this approach is applicable throughout postsecondary education. Community colleges and major universities, including HBCUs, rural campuses, and institutions in urban settings, are all implementing the framework. They are united by a commitment to viewing education-employment pathways through the eyes of the learners and workers who must find their way along them. And the evidence that following the framework moves the needle for student success energizes them.
The Meauxmentum Framework is laying the groundwork for Louisiana to reach the 60% attainment goal, which not only impacts individual adult learners but has a significant effect on the state economy, truly demonstrating the case for investing in adult learners. It’s also positioning the Board of Regents to be more than an accountability agency, serving as a collaborator to the public institutions to assist and support the work that campuses are undertaking, something I believe to be crucial to statewide efforts. Dr. Denley hopes others will be inspired by the framework approach. I know I have been, and I’m sure I speak for many CAEL members when I say I’m looking forward to where the Meauxmentum carries Louisiana colleges and universities next.