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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

Adult Education Practitioners Learn How to Connect, Disconnect and now Reconnect During Session Four (4) of the ADEI Learning Sessions

In partnership with UPD Consulting, the second year of the Antiracism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ADEI) Professional Learning Series, continued in February with over 160 participants across various adult education organizations and programs.

In Session #4 of the five-part series, participants entered the last phase of their collective work: RECONNECT in the creation of liberatory communities. ADEI session content helped participants focus on exploring people-centered approaches to addressing barriers to racial equity and to building liberatory communities. Participants heard what liberation means from student voices and their own colleagues from a local Sheriff County's Education Department team. Their team shared with the attendees what addressing racial equity means to them in their environment and how they are engaging as a team. The sessions continue to have a high satisfaction rate among participants. One respondee on the feedback survey commented, "[It] was good to hear about how people are utilizing the sessions and resources to make an impact."

The series will end at Session #5 in late March with a final in-person, full-day session at the DCU Center in Worcester where participants will find joy and celebrate their growth as they support each other to refine their plans for facilitating sustainable racial equity change by sharing their program/organization team plans, receiving feedback from colleagues, and reflecting on the journey.

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
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.