Frequently Asked Questions About Minnesota ABE Volunteer Training Standards

Did you know that state law dictates training requirements for volunteers working in Minnesota ABE programs? Here are some frequently asked questions (and moderately clever responses) to help you understand the standards more clearly.

Wait – What? Volunteer Training Standards? I’ve never heard of these? Is this something new?

No, the Minnesota ABE Volunteer training standards have been in place since July 1, 2006. They were revised on February 11, 2014.

Was this Brad’s idea?

No, the requirements for volunteer training are written into State ABE statute. Brad oversees their implementation.

Gosh, State ABE statute. That sounds confusing. Can you simplify it for me?

Sure. Basically, all volunteers who directly tutor or instruct students and generate ABE contact hours must receive an approved 12-hour pre-service training.

So, ALL volunteers working in ABE must receive training.

Best practice would recommend that all volunteers receive training appropriate to their volunteer roles. However, the state statute only applies to volunteers who are generating ABE contact hours. This includes:

  • ABE volunteers starting after July 1, 2006 who directly tutor or instruct students
  • ABE volunteer takes students from a teacher-led class and tutors them after teacher leaves the building
  • ABE volunteer has responsibility for a separate class of students and is under minimal or no direct supervision of a teacher
  • ABE volunteers that take over lessons for ABE teachers who become ill or need to leave due to an emergency (or to watch the last season of Breaking Bad on Netflix).

What about classroom assistants?

If a volunteer is working in a classroom under the direct supervision of a teacher he/she is exempt from the training requirement. “Supervision” means being directed onsite by a teacher as to how to instruct (teaching methodology), and in the content (curricula with clear activity/lesson objectives) of the instruction – all of which is under the total control of the teacher. ABE volunteers who take students to another room or segment students into subgroups in the classroom to work with them using a activity/lesson prepared by an ABE teacher while the classroom teacher is present in the building are also exempt.

What about clerical volunteers?

ABE 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.) are not required to receive an official 12-hour pre-service training but are required to receive training for the duties they perform. For example, if a volunteer is assisting with testing, he/she needs to receive training on how to appropriately administer the assessment.

My volunteers are really smart. Does this exempt them from the requirement?

Maybe. ABE Volunteers who hold the following credentials or prior experience are exempt from the 12- hour pre-service training:

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

ESL Volunteers with at least one of the following:

  • 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 within the past 10 years (volunteer or paid teacher) in a program or programs comparable to the Minnesota system ESL programs.

ABE Volunteers with at least one of the following:

  • 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.

What constitutes an “approved 12-hour pre-service training?”

Pre-service training provided by the Minnesota Literacy Council is approved. Local programs may also choose to design and deliver their own tutor training. This training must be approved by the MDE ABE office. An ABE program’s volunteer training is approved for a five-year period. ABE programs need to recertify their volunteer pre-service training once every five years and needs to be resubmitted for approval with the ABE consortium’s five-year narrative.

For more information on this, contact at [email protected]

Ok, I understand about pre-service training. What about ongoing training of volunteers?

All volunteers who have tutored for more than one year are required to receive two hours of in-service training per year.

What does the in-service training have to cover?

The in-service requirement was added at the request of programs who wanted a way to “encourage” their volunteers to receive on-going training. The content and form of the in-service is up to the individual program/program coordinator. It can be a formal class, an online workshop, a group discussion, structured observation, etc.

Where can I learn more about the ABE Volunteer Training Standards?

The Standards can be found on the MLC website >>

For information about designing a volunteer training for your program, contact Rob Podlasek at [email protected] or 651-645-2277 ext. 206.

For information about Minnesota ABE policies, email Brad Hasskamp at [email protected]

Rob Podlasek, Training Manager Minnesota Literacy Council