Overview of ABE in Minnesota

The mission of Adult Basic Education in Minnesota is to provide adults with educational opportunities to acquire and improve their literacy skills necessary to be self-sufficient and to participate effectively as productive workers, family members, and citizens. ABE clients are 16 and over, not enrolled in secondary school, and functioning below the 12th grade level in any of the basic academic areas including reading, math, writing and speaking English. Programs are administered through the Department of Education Office of Adult Basic Education.

Literacy Related Acronyms

Like most professional fields, ABE has developed a set of acronyms that can be confusing to those new to the field. Here is a list of ABE Acronyms (Microsoft Word format).

Delivery System and Services

ABE services are delivered through more than 50 local consortia (groups of service providers) around Minnesota. Each consortium delivers a variety of ABE services, including:

  • GED (General Educational Development Diploma) - National high school equivalency program that includes a set of 5 tests: Math, Reading, Writing, Social Studies, and Science. ABE helps prepare students to take and pass the test, and administers the test.
  • Adult Diploma - Programs for eligible adults leading to a high school diploma from a sponsoring Minnesota school district. Students earn a diploma through amassing course credits, rather than passing the GED.
  • ESL (English as a Second Language) - Provides instruction for those whose native language is not English. ESL classes, from pre-literacy level to the advanced level; help learners develop speaking, listening, reading, writing, and grammar skills to communicate effectively in English within their workplaces, communities and families.
  • Workforce Preparation - Literacy skills related to learners' need to obtain, retain, or improve their employment. "Workforce Education" provides basic academic and literacy skills to learners who are already employed by a specific business, industry, or company - typically provided at the learners' place of employment. "Employment Readiness" programs include general employability skills and instruction in soft skills that are essential in the workplace.
  • Family Literacy - Program for adults and their children. Features instruction for adults in literacy, instruction in parenting, and educational/developmental services for kids. ABE partners with ECFE, Even Start, Head Start, and other agencies to provide family literacy services.
  • Basic Skills Enhancement - For learners who need goal-specific elementary or secondary level basic skills such as work-related math, functional literacy (e.g.- banking skills), reading or writing assistance
  • Citizenship/Civics Education - Programs that prepare Minnesota non-citizens for U.S. citizenship. Includes application preparation and English language instruction. Civics Education includes content related to general civics knowledge and participation in a democratic society.

These programs help adult learners to:

  • Attain employment and/or better their current employment;
  • Achieve high school equivalency (GED or Adult H.S. Diploma);
  • Attain skills necessary to enter post-secondary education and training;
  • Exit public welfare and become self-sufficient;
  • Learn to speak and write the English language;
  • Master basic academic skills to help their children succeed in school;
  • Become U.S. citizens and participate in democratic society; and
  • Gain self-esteem, personal confidence, and sense of personal and civic responsibility.


ABE funding in Minnesota includes state and federal monies.

  • State Funding is allocated through a complex formula which includes base population aid - based on number of school district residents; 2) prior year contact hour revenue - based on student hours; 3) prior year K-12 LEP (Limited English Proficient) revenue - based on number of LEP students in the school district; 4) over 20, no diploma resident - based on number of adults over 20 who do not have a high school diploma. Community-based organizations receive prior year contact hour revenue only. All other types of state revenue go directly to school district ABE programs (district programs also receive contact hour revenue).
  • Federal Funding is based on prior year contact hours, with the exception of some higher level and GED testing hours that only receive state funding.

Other State ABE Information

State ABE Policy Manual

State Literacy Organizations: A number of organizations assist with literacy activities around the state. Three primary organizations:

  • Minnesota Literacy Council: MLC trains volunteers and other partners in literacy, provides support services to a network of adult literacy programs, provides instruction to adults, and promotes literacy with children through several initiatives.
  • Literacy Action Network: A professional membership, non-profit organization whose mission is to advocate for adult literacy programs with the State Legislature; promote dialog between adult learners and providers of adult basic skills to ensure efficient and effective adult literacy programs; and create awareness for and impact of adult literacy programs throughout Minnesota.
  • ATLAS, at Hamline University, provides resources and professional development to advance adult education throughout Minnesota. ATLAS brings Hamline faculty expertise in adult and ESL teacher education to provide best practice resources and professional development for Adult Basic Education (ABE) teachers, staff and administrators across the state.

Literacy Facts

ABE literacy facts and figures for Minnesota (Microsoft Word format)

Saint Paul Literacy Consortium

Read about SPCLC's mission, values, members, and more.

SPCLC Structure, Governance and Staffing

  • Governance: SPCLC is governed by a Governance Committee, which includes one voting representative from each member agency. The Governance Committee meets monthly, and must approve all major SPCLC decisions and actions. A detailed explanation of governance is included in the Operating Principles and Procedures, updated annually.
  • Fiscal Agent: The St. Paul Public Schools (ISD 627) serves as fiscal agent for SPCLC.
  • Funding Flowchart: Primary funding is provided through state and federal ABE funds administered through the Minnesota Department of Education - Office of Adult Basic Education. Funding amounts are based, under state law, on the number of service hours provided during the previous program year. Each member receives an allocation at the beginning of the program year, based on those hours. Payment is disbursed on a quarterly basis to each provider member by the St. Paul Public Schools, following receipt of a Quarterly Expenditure and Learner Hour Report from each member.
  • Staffing - Management Contract: Members contribute a small portion of monies earned to fund management services for SPCLC. The contract covers a facilitator/coordinator, Quality Assurance and Accountability Coordinator, a Technology Coordinator, and shared management expenses (such as newsletter printing). The Management Contract is administered by the Minnesota Literacy Council.
    • Facilitation/Coordination/Management: The facilitator/coordinator is responsible for staffing the Governance and Executive Committees; processing member invoices for student services and overseeing the Management Budget; facilitating compliance with State and Federal requirements, including quality assurance; managing other staff; coordinating public policy work; internal and external communication; liaison with the Minnesota Department of Education, including submission of the annual SPCLC funding application; and representing SPCLC in the larger community. The current facilitator/coordinator is Tom Cytron-Hysom.
    • Quality Assurance Advisor: This advisor works intensively with member agencies to insure high quality, consistent services, including annual visits to each member agency, and staffing the Accountability Committee; provides training and assistance to help provider agencies and direct service staff work with students in the most effective manner possible; develops and implements needed policies and procedures; insures consistency and accuracy in data collection and processing; and disseminates Best Practices among all members. This advisor also assists in maintenance of the student data base; helps members develop and maintain optimal student assessment and testing practices; and insures accurate and timely completion of comprehensive annual service data reporting by all members. The current Quality Assurance and Accountability Coordinator is Jenny Schlukebier.
    • Distance Learning Advisor: This advisor assists member agencies in developing, implementing, and monitoring distance learn ing activities. The current advisor is Kristin Morris.
  • Committees
    • Executive: The Executive Committee meets monthly. It represents the Governance Committee in between regular meetings, and helps set the agenda for the organization.
    • Task Forces: SPCLC creates ad hoc task forces as needed. Such groups meet for limited time periods to address changing needs. Recent task forces have dealt with issues related to Hmong resettlement, public policy, and budgeting.

Student Services

  • Assessment and Testing: Minnesota requires regular assessment and testing of adult learners to monitor progress. Student progress is measured using the NRS (National Reporting System) levels, consisting of nationally standardized norms.
  • At intake, each student completes a Personal Education Plan (PEP) that includes their learning goals. They also complete one of several nationally normed tests - BEST, CASAS, TABE - to ascertain their level of academic functioning. Students are re-tested after every 50-80 hours of instruction to assess their progress.
  • All student attendance and progress data is maintained in a comprehensive database, LiteracyPro. Using this database, attendance and progress data are reported annually to the State.
  • Quality Assurance and Accountability: SPCLC has long been active in assuring quality programming and adhering to accountability standards. This continues to be an important focus for the consortium and is increasingly being stressed by the MN Department of Education. To assure quality programming and accountability to the Minnesota Department of Education, the SPCLC has a staff member and an accountability committee working on Quality Assurance and Accountability. Accountability issues are also discussed at Executive Committee and Governance Committee meetings; and the accountability staff makes annual visits to partners, and provide training to program staff. The accountability issues that the coordinator and committee focus on are:
    • Proper procedures for student intake are in place at every member program.
    • Making sure that attendance records are kept and reported to the state. Reported hours and attendance records must be accurate to the standards of an external audit.
    • Testing of students is performed correctly and scores are recorded and reported accurately.
    • Efforts are made to improve literacy level completion rates for all programs.
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