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

ACLS Partners with UPD Consulting to Offer Anti-racism, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Learnings Sessions

As you know, the ACLS Team, in partnership with UPD Consulting, is excited to officially kick off the Anti-racism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ADEI) Professional Learning Series in February.

Below is a snapshot of the session topics, dates, and descriptions. Our main objective is to build a mighty community of people that learn together, grow together, and support each other in their efforts to provide the adult education students of Massachusetts with caring, inclusive spaces of belonging. Therefore, participants are expected to bring open minds, clear eyes, and full hearts to the collective work of examining the current systems and processes and reimagining more equitable structures and practices.

The Learning Session Experience, Session 1: February 14-18; Session 2: March 14-18; Session 3: April 11-14; Session 4: May 16-19; Session 5: June 6-9

Check out this introduction slide deck that provides for information regarding the purpose and format of the learning sessions. You can also refer to this FAQ document that helps answer some of the questions that have arisen through various presentations and through the Input Surveys many of our programs completed in December. We are so thankful for your interest and are taking your feedback seriously as we plan this highly engaging learning experience for you. This is a living document. Continue to check back often as we add more questions and responses.

If you have questions, please reach out to us: Lisa Patrick , ACLS Program Specialist or Jenni Greene , UPD Senior Consultant.

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: October 18, 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.