Adult and Community Learning Services (ACLS)

Adult and Community Learning Services (ACLS)

Mission Statement

To provide each and every adult with opportunities to develop literacy skills needed to qualify for further education, job training, and better employment, and to reach his/her full potential as a family member, productive worker, and citizen. — Adopted in 1993

Hot Topics

Two Massachusetts Adult Education Programs were Recently Selected as Innovators in Adult Education

The Advancing Innovation in Adult Education project was launched in 2018 by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE) and is executed by Manhattan Strategy Group and Abt Associates. This project's mission is to identify and highlight innovative practices implemented by Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA) grantees. Identifying current Adult Education practices that promote creative and innovative adult education programming that yield high quality and positive outcomes for adult learners is paramount to being selected for this project.

The MA Department of Elementary & Secondary Education's Adult & Community Learning Services unit is proud to have two programs (Hampdem County Sheriff's Department in Ludlow, MA, MassSTEP — formally Integrated Education and Training — IET Culinary Arts program & Catholic Charities/El Centro in Boston, MA Transition to College/Post-secondary Training program). Both programs were selected by the Advancing Innovation in Adult Education project. The innovative programs have been featured in the New Resource for Adult Educators report and in a recorded webinar during National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week.

Advancing Innovation in Adult Education, Hampden County Sheriff's Department, Innovator in Holistic Approaches to Adult Education Services
Advancing Innovation in Adult Education, Catholic Charities — El Centro, Innovator in Holistic Approaches to Adult Education Services

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.

Call (800) 447 – 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 System for Adult Basic Education Support (SABES).

Last Updated: August 29, 2021

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.