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Minnesota Department of Education – Adult Basic Education


Minnesota Department of Education – Adult Basic Education

Volunteer Training Standards 

Applicable Minnesota Law: 

According to State ABE statute, 124D.518 Adult basic education aid definition,

Subdivision 6, b. 3: 

    (b) A community-based organization or nonprofit organization that delivers education services under this section must demonstrate that it has met the following criteria:  

    (3) require all instructional staff to complete a training course in teaching adult learners;  

    According to State ABE statute, 124D.52 Adult basic education, Subdivision 2 Program approval, a. 7: 

      Subd. 2.    Program approval.  (a) To receive aid under this section, a district, a consortium of districts, the Department of Corrections, or a private nonprofit organization must submit an application by June 1 describing the program, on a form provided by the department.  The program must be approved by the commissioner according to the following criteria:   

            (7) volunteer training and use of volunteers;  

      Volunteer Training Standards Rationale:    

      The Minnesota Department of Education – Adult Basic Education office must uphold ABE law as cited above through the development and implementation of training standards for all volunteers who are working directly with ABE students in an instructional capacity.  In summary, these required training standards are established for approved Adult Basic Education programs that are counting learner contact hours through the use of volunteers in an instructional capacity. 

      Enhanced accountability efforts and the requirement of the National Reporting System (NRS) ABE student performance measures have become increasingly important and necessary to meet the requirements of ABE federal and state law.  These ABE student performance measures are based on ABE adult-appropriate standardized tests scores and meeting core employment, GED/Adult diploma and post-secondary goals. 

      Effective Date: 

      ABE Volunteer Training Standards are effective:  July 1, 2006 


      Training Requirements

      • All ABE volunteers starting after July 1, 2006 who directly tutor or instruct students and generate ABE contact hours (independent from the classroom teacher) are required to complete the 12 hour pre-service standards.
      • In general, volunteers who work as classroom assistants under the direct supervision of a teacher DO NOT need to meet the training requirements.  See clarifying situations below regarding the concept of “under the direct supervision” of the classroom teacher.  These scenarios illustrate which volunteers must have the preservice and which are exempt:
        • Volunteer only works in the classroom with the teacher – Exempt
        • Volunteer takes students to another room or segment students into subgroups in the classroom to work with them and classroom teacher is present in the building – Exempt
        • Volunteer takes students from a teacher-led class and tutors them after teacher leaves the building – Not exempt
        • Volunteer has responsibility for a separate class of students and is under minimal or no direct supervision of a teacher – Not exempt
        • “Supervision” means being directed by a teacher as to how to instruct (teaching methodology), and in the content (curricula) of the instruction – all of which is under the total control of the teacher.
      • Volunteers who have no instructional or tutor responsibilities and perform other, non-instructional tasks (e.g. intake, support services, book-keeping, technology aides, data entry, etc.) DO NOT need to meet the training requirements. 
      • Volunteers who tutor or instruct students directly in programs that do not receive state or federal ABE funding DO NOT have to meet the ABE volunteer training requirements.

      Volunteers who hold the following credentials or prior experience are EXEMPT from the 12 hour pre-service training: 

        Grandfather Clause:

        • Any volunteer tutor who began volunteering prior to July 1, 2006

        ESL Volunteers:

        • TEFL/TESL certification
        • College degree in ESL or Linguistics
        • Current Minnesota K-12 license (Note: Must be a non-expired license which implies the need for renewal credits to keep current.)
        • Over 400 hours of documentable ESL instruction (volunteer or paid teacher) in a program or programs comparable to the Minnesota system ESL programs.

        ABE Volunteers:

        • Current Minnesota K-12 license
        • Current Minnesota ABE license
        • Over 400 hours of documentable ABE instruction (volunteer or paid teacher) in a program or programs comparable to the Minnesota system ABE programs.

      In-Service Requirement Effective May 1, 2007, all volunteers who have tutored for more than one year are required to attend or provide 2-hours of in-service training.  Volunteers can be sent to the in-services offered by the MLC or the local program can provide the training. 

      Training Timeline

      Volunteers who are required to receive training must do so within a 3 month time period of their volunteer assignment. 

      Minnesota Volunteer Training Content Standards 

      All ABE volunteers starting after July 1, 2006 who directly tutor or instruct students and generate ABE contact hours (independent from the classroom teacher) are required to receive 12 hours of training.   

      The training MUST cover the following five topics: 

    1. Initial and On-going Assessment (Including CASAS, BEST Plus and TABE testing procedures and state accountability information)
    1. Goal Setting and Follow-Up (Including information about National Reporting System goals) 
    1. Working with Textbooks (either a general overview of how to use a textbook, or in-depth coverage of specific text/curriculum used by your program) 
    1. Lesson Planning 
    1. Working with Adults (Characteristics of adult learners, cultural issues, sensitivity to the challenges learning English/literacy) 

    The remainder of the training should consist of topics that are relevant to what the volunteer will be doing in the program. Some possible topics include: 

    • Teaching Listening Skills (pre-listening, listening for specific information, gist, post-listening, comprehension etc.  )
    • Teaching Speaking Skills (mechanical drills, dialogs, role-plays, pronunciation, grammar, etc.,) 
    • Teaching Decoding Strategies (letter recognition, sight reading, context clues, etc.) 
    • Teaching Comprehension Strategies (Pre-reading, questioning, scanning, skimming, etc.) 
    • Teaching Writing (Language experience approach, dialog journals, spelling, process writing, etc.) 
    • Teaching Math (math operations, real-life math, etc.)   
    • Preparing for the GED (overview of process, test-taking tips, teaching GED content and skills)
    • Learning Styles 
    • Principles of Teaching (e.g., repetition, layering, review, limiting teaching talk, etc.) 
    • Integrating technology into learning 

    The on-site orientation should include: 

    • Specific details about program testing and accountability practices
    • Risk Management (student/tutor boundaries, harassment, etc.)  
    • Orientation to program policies  
    • Orientation to program curriculum  
    • First lessons 

    Training Options and Resources:   

    As a supplemental services contractor of the Minnesota Department of Education Adult Basic Education office, the Minnesota Literacy Council has the capacity to assist with the delivery of the 12 hour pre-service training necessary for volunteers.  This training will be available statewide beginning in July 1, 2006.  The MLC training has been approved by the state.  The contact for the MLC training is:  Rob Podlasek, RPodlasek@theMLC.org  

    An alternative for providing this required training to ABE programs is the local training option.  ABE programs that design their own training that is compatible with the pre-service standards (noted above) may seek content approval from the Minnesota Department of Education Adult Basic Education office.  If the training content is approved, the local program may deliver that training to its volunteers.  To submit a training program for approval, please contact Anne Marie Leland at anne.leland@state.mn.us  

    ABE Program Compliance

    All state and federally funded ABE programs are subject to Minnesota Department of Education – Adult Basic Education compliance reviews.  The purpose of the Minnesota Department of Education Adult Basic Education (MDE-ABE) compliance review is to ensure that ABE providers receiving state and federal funds are in compliance with all applicable state and federal laws, rules, regulations, policies and procedures, that funds have been expended effectively and efficiently, and that required performance goals are achieved. 


    MDE-ABE Volunteer Training Standards


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