Education and Career Plan Policy Update- Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Adult and Community Learning Services (ACLS)

Education and Career Plan Policy Update

Dear Program Director,

Adult and Community Learning Services (ACLS) is committed to endorsing a new process for advising - one that puts students' needs, hopes, and aspirations at the center of ABE services. With the implementation of individual student education and career plans, "next steps" planning becomes a system-wide effort to help students achieve success in a constantly changing and ever more challenging economy.

Students have widely varying needs for future planning. Some may have specific goals when they enroll in an ABE program, including supporting their children's literacy development and helping them to succeed in school. Some students may or may not envision a career or attending college, but it is important that ALL adult learners are exposed to all possibilities. Too few students who get their GED go on to post-secondary education and of those who do go on, not enough successfully complete certificate or degree programs. This MUST change if students are to become self-sufficient. To this end, the advising process must be characterized by a positive, dynamic approach to help students to revision their lives and set goals for further educational attainment. It's a challenge to tackle this kind of change, but by working together in a collaborative spirit and guided by research-based reforms in advising practice, students can more effectively succeed in education and in life. We must increase student engagement and retention, and help students take steps beyond the GED. ACLS is planning regional meetings for the fall, and guidance on the new advising protocol will be addressed. In the interim, be advised of the following:

  • FY2013 is a pilot year for Education and Career/Family Action Plans; 50% of students must have begun the process by June of 2013, and 100% by June of 2014. ACLS will seek feedback from the field throughout the year, and will promote promising practices that emerge from the field.
  • An Advising Task Force comprised of ABE practitioners met last spring and provided recommendations for an advising process and a tool for use in programs. ACLS is currently reviewing their recommendations.
  • ACLS is revising the options indicated in the FY13 Adult Education Guidelines: A Career and Education Plan OR a Family Action Plan. Only one integrated and consolidated document will be required.
  • Many programs already have processes in place for assessing and developing students' career readiness. ACLS will support flexibility by NOT mandating a specific tool for use system-wide, but a sample template/tool will be provided for programs that would like one. It is important to note that ACLS will identify the key elements of education and career plans that must be part of advising protocols to ensure that students are equitably and effectively advised. ACLS may decide in the future to use an internet-based tool for documenting Education and Career Plans and, if so, guidance will be provided.
  • SABES and ACLS will collaboratively plan and deliver professional development activities to build the program capacity to offer educational and career advising for students.

An approach to the advising process is framed in The Appreciative Advising Revolution by Jennifer L. Bloom, Bryant Hutson, and Ye He; this model was endorsed by the 2012 ACLS Advising Task Force. The text has an accompanying website at that identifies professional development opportunities, a community of practitioners, and connections to national advising standards. Below are more resources to get you started in building a focused advising component in your program:

Integrating Career Readiness in the ABE Curriculum - available FREE through SABES

O*NET On-line - resources available FREE through U.S. Department of Labor -

MassCIS - Massachusetts' Career Information System - resources available FREE through the MA Workforce System -

Life Skills, College and Career Readiness Guide for ESOL Learners - available FREE through SABES

Adult Career Pathways -

Please explore these resources, and know that professional development will be offered, and, your program specialists are available to assist you. I look forward to discussing this with you at the ACLS-sponsored meetings in the fall.

With Literacy in Mind.

Anne Serino
ABE State Director

Last Updated: September 13, 2012

Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


Disclaimer: A reference in this website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.