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The Department has moved to 135 Santilli Highway in Everett. The Department's office and Licensure Welcome Center are open. The new location has free parking and is a short walk from the Wellington station on the MBTA's Orange Line.
Adult and Community Learning Services (ACLS)

Adult and Community Learning Services (ACLS)

Mission and Vision Statements


We envision a future where every adult in Massachusetts can gain the knowledge, skills, and support they need to build the life they aspire to live.


Working with providers and partners, ACLS stewards a public adult education system that puts no-cost quality instruction, advising, job training, and career pathways within reach of all adult students in Massachusetts.

Hot Topics

Antiracism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ADEI) Series

The Antiracism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ADEI) series, facilitated by UPD Consulting, recently completed more sessions in both their Core Learning Series and Community of Practice.

ADEI Core Learning Series

We welcomed over 88 staff, leaders, and students from more than a dozen adult education programs in-person to the Devens Common Center on November 14. We collectively explored the adult education context to Recognize the Harmful Impacts of Dominant Culture in the Four levels of Racism and Identifying Barriers to Change. Facilitators and participants exchanged personal and professional experiences that illuminated racial inequities in the forms of Either/Or Thinking, Paternalism, and Perfectionism before identifying programmatic and classroom-centered policies and practices they want to focus their collection action planning around.

Participants rated the session at 100% satisfaction and found many topics helpful. One participant stated: "The impact/intent task with a policy or practice was straightforward and effective; I'll bring that back to our team to look at many areas of our work. Using facilitators' storytelling about experiences with paternalism, either/or, and perfectionism was a powerful set-up — really well constructed to tell the story and then pull-out key connections. Altogether, today was a great day!"

The five-part series will pick back up with Session #3 in January 2024.

ADEI Community of Practice

Year 1 and Year 2 participants of the ADEI Core Learning Series continue to work in community with each other to apply their learnings in actionable ways in a series focusing on Engaging Diverse Perspectives by engaging in feedback, continuous improvement discussions, and activities through the A-C-T Framework.

The A-C-T Framework provides a seamless a foundation for raising awareness that guide the exploration of opportunities for action. The progression of the framework moves through to changes in mindset and practices needed by the stakeholders. This guides the participants to planning a process for transformation as a team, all with shared goals.

In Session #2, participants explored how to manage and lead change in their adult education context through the Switch Change Framework using an analogy of The Rider (to represent people's logic), the Elephant (to represent peoples' emotions), and the Path (to represent the environment in which the change is taking place). It was a highly effective visual that led to meaningful conversations and meaning making for participants.

In Session #3, participants focused on building the skill and will of stakeholders important to their change process and imperative to supporting themselves and their teams to act on their identified equity initiatives.

This wrapped up the Fall Semester series. New and returning CoP participants will engage in a new three-part series starting in the Spring Semester that will focus on Student Leadership in Adult Education.

Massachusetts Adult Literacy Hotline

Are you a Massachusetts resident who wants to get a high school equivalency credential or learn English? The Massachusetts Adult Literacy Hotline provides referrals to hundreds of adult education programs that offer English language training, high school equivalency test preparation, and other services.

MA Adult Literacy Hotline phone number 800 dash 447 dash 8844


Adult Education System Evaluation Final Report 2020 (December 2020)

ACLS commissioned the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute (UMDI) to determine if recent adult education system changes have contributed to improvements in the quality of and access to educator PD, quality of adult education provided, and student outcomes. We invite you to review UMDI's Adult Education System Evaluation Final Report reflecting the perspectives of students, directors, teachers, advisors, ACLS staff, and other stakeholders along with findings and recommendations for the future. The report is posted on the Workforce Development and Adult Learners link of the DESE Reports by Topic page.

What Is "ACLS"?

Adult and Community Learning Services (ACLS), a unit at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, oversees and improves no-cost basic educational services (ABE) for adults in Massachusetts.

What Is "ABE"?

ABE stands for Adult Basic Education. ABE is an umbrella term used to describe a range of educational services for adults from basic literacy (including English for non-native speakers of English), numeracy, and high school equivalency / adult diploma programs (ADP).

How Does ACLS Help Adults?

ACLS funds programs in Massachusetts to provide educational services to adults with academic skill levels below 12th grade, and/or adults who need English language skills to succeed in our communities. Through both federal and state grants, we fund a broad network of education providers/programs, including local school systems, community-based agencies, community colleges, libraries, volunteer organizations, correctional facilities, and others. ACLS also funds family literacy and workplace education programs.

How Does ACLS Work To Improve the Adult Basic Education Service Delivery System?

In addition to ABE classes, ACLS funds innovative projects to enhance programs' delivery of services, including curriculum frameworks, health education, English Language Civics, community planning, distance learning, family literacy, workplace education, and technology.

ACLS also funds the professional development of teachers and other professionals in ABE programs through the public adult education of Massachusetts professional development (PD) system.

Last Updated: April 6, 2023

Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
135 Santilli Highway, Everett, MA 02149

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.