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Adult and Community Learning Services (ACLS)

The Massachusetts ABE Professional Development System

The Massachusetts ABE professional development (PD) system is known as the System for Adult Basic Education Support (SABES). For over 25 years, SABES has been essential to the advancement of the ABE system, providing effective leadership and support to ABE programs and practitioners across the state.

Today's adult learners need a much higher level of academic rigor and support than has previously been required. This reality is based on such factors as the implementation of rigorous standards aligned to the Common Core State Standards, a more rigorous high school equivalency test, labor market changes, and technology developments. Today's ABE practitioners and programs need access to PD that is responsive to this demand for increased academic rigor and support.

In September 2014, SABES transitioned from a system of five regional PD centers and a central resource center to a system of eight statewide PD centers and two statewide PD system support centers responsible for system coordination and communication. View the SABES PD Center Directory. The priorities of this revised ABE PD system are:

  1. Invest resources in content expertise using a statewide provider structure whereby each PD Center is responsible for providing statewide leadership, professional development, and ongoing support in its PD priority area;
  2. Strengthen curriculum and instruction at ESE-funded ABE programs in full alignment with the College and Career Readiness Standards for Adult Education (the CCR Standards) with an emphasis on increased academic rigor and expertise;
  3. Strengthen ABE educator effectiveness by providing a range of PD offerings and supports of sufficient quality, intensity, and duration in order to increase educators' professional learning and improve educator practice;
  4. Strengthen education and career advising to support college and career readiness for all adult learners;
  5. Develop and support educational leadership within ESE-funded ABE programs in order to build the capacity of administrators to effectively lead their staff and manage their programs to fully implement the rigorous CCR Standards; and
  6. Provide technical assistance to ESE-funded ABE programs, including targeted intervention for underperforming programs referred by ACLS, in order to improve student performance and achieve state and local ABE program goals.

SABES will assist ABE programs and practitioners in (a) addressing the ACLS overarching goal of preparing all ABE students for success in their next steps within the context of college and career readiness, and (b) implementing the educational and workforce priorities of new ABE legislation, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

More information about the SABES PD system can be found at the SABES website.

Professional Standards

The Massachusetts Professional Standards for Teachers of Adult English Speakers of Other Languages, completed in the spring of 2014, outline what teachers of adult English language learners need to know and be able to do to effectively meet their learners’ needs. Specifically, these seven standards address the areas of second language acquisition, components of language, intercultural awareness, curriculum and instructional design, instructional delivery and classroom management, assessment, and professional growth.

Each standard is accompanied by: guiding questions for teachers; a supporting explanation for the standard; practical considerations for putting the standard into practice; essential concepts that teachers should know; and sample applications — or observable teaching behaviors — for putting knowledge into practice.

In order to support teachers in meeting these standards, professional development offerings have been developed for six of the seven standards. For more information about these offerings, visit the SABES PD Center for ESOL.

Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document
Massachusetts Professional Standards for Teachers of Adult English Speakers of Other Languages


Last Updated: December 16, 2015
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