Marshall Consortium Staff Meeting

Marshall Area Adult Learning Center

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Lyon County Government Center

607 West Main, Marshall, MN


Present: Cheryl McChesney, Pam Grebel, Sally Belgum-Blad, Delores Johnson, Stephanie Guza, Judy Hacker, Sheila Helleson, Sue Hollingsworth, Jamie Verdeck, Lois Schmidt, Tammy Bukowski, Bonnie Nielsen, Gail Perrizo, Sue Burnett, Charles Carrera, Paula Gimmestad, Jeanne Kelsey, John Doyle, Vickie Radloff, Ted Stamp, Barb Glaeser and Pat Thomas.


1.  Pat welcomed staff and introduced new staff members, Sue Hollingsworth from Redwood Falls and Lois Schmidt working with the Bremer Grant.


2.  Equipped for the Future Standards (EFF)


EFF Standards are skills identified through research that assist adults to adapt to change in response to our changing world – both in the workplace and in the community.  These skills would be most commonly called soft skills or interpersonal skills in our vocabulary.  Research indicates 9 out of 10 jobs are lost due to a lack of these skills.  The challenge being placed in front of all Marshall ABE staff is by what means can one intentionally teach these skills within the ABE/ESL classroom.  At this point, a framework – not a curriculum – seems to be the optimum method to facilitate this idea.  This framework would weave these standards/skills in a manner that delivers this instruction equal to hard skill (2+2=4) development.  A booklet on EFF standards is being made available to each staff member.  If you have not received one, please contact the Marshall ABE.


Round table discussions were done on this topic in 2 sessions:  GED/ABE learners and another group that works primarily with ESL learners.  Each staff present was asked to send Pat their thoughts on this concept.  Further discussion on how this could be implemented will be held at future meetings.


3.  Workplace Stories – Sally Belgum-Blad


Sally shared with staff some of the stories she has created to be used with the Read Naturally methodology.  She asked that staff look at these stories and give recommendations as to their value and/or ideas for content she could include in additional stories.  Her goal is to create stories using content relevant to adult learners in their everyday life.


Plans are also being made to place these stories on our web page for easier access for staff to review them.


4.  New MFIP Regulations


Mary Mulder from the WorkForce Center presented to staff new regulations that now affect their MFIP customers.  There are now core activities (a number of core hours are required) and non-core activities that are used for the client’s plan.  Before the changes, ABE/ESL classes were acceptable for up to 100% of their plan.  This is no longer allowed.  A short summary of the highpoints are:


Activities Allowed Under MN Law
Activity    Core Vs NC           Comments

ESL Training


Must be below SPL 6 or its Equivalent

ABE Remedial


Must have a reading or math proficiency below 9th grade level

Functional Work Literacy

Non- Core     

Must be below SPL 6 or its equivalent; 24 mos. Max in this Activity



Core for 18-19 yr. Old with MAXIS coding indicating the last grade completed is less than 12; Non-Core age 20 or over

Unpaid Work Experience 


Includes unpaid apprenticeships or internships and “supported work” when wage subsidy not provided


Before  After

Could be enrolled in ABE classes up to 30 hours

Could be enrolled in ABE classes up to 20 hours

Functional Work Literacy (100% total work activities)

Functional Work Literacy (2/3 total work activities)

FWL defined as 20 intensive ESL 

FWL defined as 20 intensive ESL with a work focus



18-19 year olds have option to choose school plan or work plan as part of their employment plan.


Please call if you have questions regarding these new regulations.  Bottom line is it underscores yet again the need to focus on instruction that prepares students for a job as quickly as possible.  Federal policy makers are also laying out a priority of workplace literacy skills to be taught in ABE programs.  This also gives credence to instruction focusing on both hard and soft skills.



4.  Charles Carrera provided computer training on Microsoft Word.


5.  Children’s Defense Fund Minnesota – Kristin Barnett of the Children’s Defense Fund Minnesota introduced the website www.coveringallfamilies.org.  This is a one-stop approach to screen families for public programs including health care, child care, school meals and tax credits. 


6.  The MACAE award received by the Marshall ABE was shared with staff.  This award is an outcome of the efforts put forth by all staff.  See the web page at www.marshalladulteducation.org for the article describing this award.  All Community Ed directors received information on this article plus permission from the Marshall Independent to run this article in their local papers.


7.  Fees for ABE Services – Fees can now be charged for ABE services as per ’03 legislative action.  Marshall is currently considering piloting a model system of charging fees beginning January 1, 2004.


8.  All staff were requested to sign a form describing Data Privacy requirements.  Please request this form from Barb if you have not signed one.


9.  At the statewide ABE manager’s meeting, the State ABE department laid out both the performance standards they expect and how programs not meeting these standards will be reviewed for compliance.  Performance standards are set at the expectation that 25% of all students will move up one educational level.  Currently, our consortium is an 11% level change for the ’03-’04 year.  The % of level change for each class offered was distributed to instructors.


10.  Discussions are currently being conducted among the 4 SW Minnesota ABE consortiums (Granite Falls, Jackson, Worthington and Marshall) as to the viability of a merger into one ABE consortium.  If plans would proceed with this concept, each consortium would continue to operate as is.  The only difference would be that the State would look at us as one entity.  If this merger had been in place the past 2 years, an additional $180,000 - $200,000 would have been retained for ABE services in SW MN.


11.  Update on CASAS Testing (State Guidelines)

ABE – post test after 60 to 80 hours of instruction

ESL – post test after 80 to 100 hours of instruction



Roundtable & Evaluation Discussion Notes

Equipped For the Future (EFF) Topic

Marshall ABE Consortium Meeting

November 22, 2003



-        Whatever is taught to either ESL or GED students needs to be purpose-specific as per each group and its particular needs

-        materials and ideas (particularly soft skills) must be presented directly as having value, yet without condescending or teaching irrelevant information

-        EFF is well worth studying and trying to implement

-        Would like to see more EFF training & discussion at future meetings

-        EFF took 10 years to create;  it will also take time to integrate the framework

-        This should help our students, but we do most of this now, but not labeled with this name

-        If EFF’s strength to our program is about documenting our (soft) skills, how do we document what we learned from our grandparents/parents, etc. 

-        EFF looks like an excellent tool for generating soft skill ideas

-        Like having a framework to look at – need more time to study it

-        EFF is not a novel idea, but it is beneficial to discuss innovative ways to cover the standards in various lesson plans;  please give us more ideas; lesson plans in action

-        EFF looks a bit complicated, but I like the framework & the fact that it includes soft skills that relate to employability

-        People will keep their jobs longer if they have these skills

-        Teachers are teaching these standards now to the teaching moment, but it is happening in a random fashion, and students are not recognizing or acknowledging that they are learning/have mastered a new skill

-        We, as teachers, and our students are not recognizing these EFF standards/soft skills in general as the “cake,” we think of it as the “frosting.”  Because they are so important in getting and keeping jobs, we need to think of soft skills as the cake

-        How do we teach these skills in a way that is not demeaning or offensive

-        EFF standards speak to middle-class values – values that aren’t necessarily revered by some of our students.  These types of individuals don’t aspire to what’s represented by some of the standards.  In the end, we must recognize that our students have a choice of fulfilling or not fulfilling expectations

-        EFF ideals are similar to our school’s “Life Skills – Consumer & Family Science”  curriculum – we could get ideas from our ‘home ec’ teacher on how to implement the standards

-        We need ideas on how to incorporate EFF in an intentional way

-        The Malcolm Baldridge Continual Improvement Program is a process we could borrow from in thinking of ways to implement EFF.  The program incorporates goals/checking on goals/achievement logs/educators’ responsibilities to goals, etc.

-        EFF Standards / Framework could be used in conjunction with the MN ABE Employability Skills Profile (MAESP) to target attention to addressing the gaps the profile reveals in skills and behavior that can affect employability

-        As teachers, we can use opportunities to encourage people to observe their own behavior – many people don’t think these types of standards apply to them.  We can help them understand that they do apply to them and their ability to have successful employment experiences throughout their lives

-        We need also to help students value what they come into our classrooms already knowing and having

-        Some of our students may truly have a pretty good handle on social skills.  In that case, we could go overboard in our focus on the standards, and disinterest the type of person who came into my classroom simply to learn to read

-        Comment:  9 out of 10 reasons given for dismissal of employees are lack of soft skills.  Notice job applications and job interviews – many of the questions are not focused on specific job skills, but on issues of self control and getting along in the workplace

-        EFF standards could be helpful for ESL learners by using them with stories and experiences that access students’ prior knowledge

-        Idea:  the EFF Standards Wheel as a progress utility to track learners’ mastery of each standard.  Students mark the skill wheel’s slices with date & notes as they practice and master each skill.  This provides a visual progress record, a sense of accomplishment, a reminder that it’s a skill the individual possesses and knows he possesses, and an opportunity to recall how he learned and used the skill so that it can come into play at the time it’s needed again


Have a question or comment?