The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Adult Education — System Overview and Student/Educator Panel

Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Jeffrey C. Riley, Commissioner
December 7, 2018

At the December 18, 2018 meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (Board), the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's (Department) Office of Adult and Community Learning Services (ACLS) will:

State law authorizes the Department to oversee adult education in the Commonwealth, as follows:

Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the department, in coordination with other state agencies, shall develop a comprehensive system, subject to appropriation, for the delivery of adult basic education and literacy services that will ensure opportunities leading to universal basic adult literacy and better employment opportunities. …

Mass. General Laws Chapter 69, Section 1H. The full text of the statute is attached.

The Adult and Community Learning Services is the office in the Department that manages the adult education system in Massachusetts. Using a combination of state (approximately $33 million) and federal (approximately $10 million) funds, ACLS supports programs that provide adults with the educational foundation they need to access a career pathway to family-sustaining employment, support their children's education, and participate fully in community life.

During FY2018, ACLS rebid the adult education grant funding system with a strengthened focus on program quality, funding equity, and performance outcomes. The funding primarily supports basic literacy through college- and career-readiness (including high school equivalency credential preparation and adult diploma programs) and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) instructional services through 70 Community Adult Learning Centers located in 48 cities and towns in all 16 local workforce areas in the state. Through a diverse provider network that includes school districts, community colleges, libraries, and community-based organizations, approximately 18,000 adults are served each year. In addition to services in community settings, instruction is offered in eight correctional institutions and at a variety of workplaces through collaborations with businesses and labor unions. Despite modest increases in both federal and state funds, the demand for services continues to exceed the supply. Over 17,000 adult learners are on waitlists for services.

Through new opportunities created by the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), ACLS now supports Integrated Education and Training (IET) programs, which provide adult education and literacy activities concurrently and contextually with workforce preparation activities and workforce training for a specific occupation or occupational cluster. When combined with IET programs, Integrated English Literacy and Civics Education programs provide ESOL instruction, civics education activities, workforce preparation activities, and workforce training in high-demand industries. Educational and career advancement is the goal of both programs.

Across the Commonwealth, regional networks of volunteers also offer adult education services for adult learners who are unable to attend classes. Additionally, ACLS supports transition to community college programs, and continues to work on expanding digital learning opportunities for adult learners.

The state's adult education programs support learners' individual educational goals and are aligned with our mission to strengthen the Commonwealth's public education system so that every student is prepared to succeed in postsecondary education, compete in the global economy, and understand the rights and responsibilities of American citizens, and in so doing, to close all proficiency gaps. To learn more, you can view two short videos at Videos on Adult Education Success Stories and High School Equivalency.

We look forward to sharing more about the adult education system with you. Senior Associate Commissioner Cliff Chuang and Wyvonne Stevens-Carter, Acting State Adult Education Director, will be at the meeting on December 18 to provide the overview and respond to your questions. A panel of students and educators, along with representatives from the Board's Adult Education Advisory Council, will also join us.


Download Word Document
Mass. General Laws Chapter 69, Section 1H
Download PowerPoint File
Adult Education Overview December 18, 2018