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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 has the knowledge, skills, and support they need to lead the life they aspire to live.


In pursuit of this vision, ACLS partners with adult education programs to ensure that all students have access to quality instruction, advising, job training, and career pathways.

  • We set high expectations and provide support to achieve them.
  • We promote flexible options for learning that honor the diversity of students and advance equity and inclusion.
  • We foster collaborations that enhance student success in employment and higher education.
  • We hold ourselves and our providers accountable for results.

Hot Topics

FY23 SABES announcement 7.27.22

Earlier this year, ACLS rebid the five SABES Professional Development Centers that serve adult education practitioners in the Commonwealth. We are pleased to report that FY23-27 contracts for the five centers have been awarded as follows:

  • World Education, Inc. will host two centers:
    • Program Support PD Center led by Luanne Teller
    • ELA PD Center led by Evonne Peters
  • Education Development Center (EDC) will host two centers:
    • Communication Center led by Heidi Larson
    • ESOL PD Center led by Dori McCormack
  • TERC will host the Math and Numeracy PD Center led by Heidi Schuler-Jones

ACLS is pleased to partner with World Education, Education Development Center, and TERC, organizations with long-standing commitments to adult education. We look forward to the many ways in which these partners will work with our adult education programs across the state for the benefit of adult learners.

ADEI Learning Series

The ACLS Team, in partnership with UPD Consulting, officially launched the Antiracism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ADEI) Professional Learning Series in February. These virtual ADEI learning sessions consist of 4 cohorts, 14 communities of practice, and almost 300 participants across various adult education organizations and programs across Massachusetts. The series for Year 1 participants recently wrapped up with the fifth and final session the week of June 6–9.

Session #5 — Reconnect to Hope, Joy, Healing & Celebration to Sustain Ourselves and Each Other as Designers of Liberatory Spaces in Adult Education

Our first session focused on Connecting to the truths of racial inequities in the adult education system. Our second and third sessions focused on Disconnecting from the oppressive practices and systems of dominant culture like perfectionism, paternalism and either/or thinking. The final sessions, four and five, asked participants to Reconnect by finding others they wanted to bring along and work in collaboration to co-plan, co-create and design liberatory spaces based in antiracism to bring about inclusion and belonging for all.

We shared stories of changes happening in the field where an equity lens was being applied and exploring populations that were being most impacted. Participants walked about with resources to engage in the process and a plan (based in Design Justice principles). Significant time was spent in collaboration with colleagues across organization types and roles with the shared vision of liberation for the Adult Education students and the staff that support them. Additionally, participants were also rooted in the joy and celebration of changes that have already occurred in the system and changes planned but yet to come. The session contained inspirational share-outs from colleagues, dancing, inspirational quotes, a gratitude circle, laughter and more. All in all, it brought about the hope, joy, healing, and celebration we all needed to sustain in this work ahead. Wyvonne Stevens-Carter, Director of Adult Education, ended the series by saying, "Let's take a breath and look at where we've come and continue to make steps where you're at. I look forward to engaging again next year and continuing to grow as a team and a field in this work as we make deliberate change."

Information to Participate in Year 2 ADEI Learning Series Cohort

Year 1 participants found the 5-session ADEI series and Communities of Practice extremely helpful in developing their practices, understandings, and abilities to bring about change. Participants indicated a 96.7% satisfaction rate on their end-of-series survey responses! If you are excited to initiate this work in your own team, program, and/or classroom and have not yet had an opportunity to participate, we encourage you to consider registering for next year's cohort in the ADEI Learning Series. Stay tuned for more information on how to register coming up at the end of summer. In the meantime, you can also reach out to the UPD Team at for more information.

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 System for Adult Basic Education Support (SABES).

Last Updated: July 28, 2022

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.