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Adult and Community Learning Services (ACLS)

Teaching Skills That Matter

What is Teaching Skills that Matter?

In July 2020, ACLS joined a team of eight states participating in the Teaching the Skills That Matter (TSTM) in Adult Education project. This project, led by American Institute for Research (AIR) and the Office for Career, Technical and Adult Education (OCTAE), trains teachers to integrate the skills that matter to adult students using approaches that work across critical topic areas. Using the project's tools and training, adult education teachers can teach the transferable skills students need in these critical contexts.

9 Skills

  1. Adaptability & Willingness to Learn
  2. Communications
  3. Critical Thinking
  4. Interpersonal Skills
  5. Navigating Systems
  6. Problem Solving
  7. Processing & Analyzing Information
  8. Respecting Differences & Diversity
  9. Self-awareness

5 Topic Areas

  1. Civics Education
  2. Digital Literacy
  3. Financial Literacy
  4. Health Literacy
  5. Workplace Preparation

3 Approaches

  1. Integrated & Contextualized Learning
  2. Problem-based Learning
  3. Project-based Learning

Each participating TSTM state has a team of four trainers and a state team lead.

Massachusetts TSTM Trainers

  • Laura Porter, Literacy Specialist and ESOL Instructor, Holyoke Community College ESOL Programs
  • Christa Exter, Math Teacher, Methuen Public Schools Adult Education
  • Leah Gregory, ESOL Teacher and Program Coordinator, East Boston Harborside Community Center-Adult Education Program
  • Lisa Baroletti-Stewart, ESOL Teacher, Boston Public Schools Adult Education Program
  • Michele Sprengnether, Adult Education Teacher, Just-a-Start
  • Ann-Marie Hallagan, ELA Teacher, Bristol Community College Adult Education

The TSTM Team's Role

The role of the MA TSTM team is to:

  • In collaboration with ACLS and SABES Curriculum and Instruction Professional Development Centers,
    • Contribute to the development of the TSTM implementation and sustainability plan
    • Implement and sustain the TSTM plan for the next three fiscal years (FY2022–FY2024)
  • Disseminate TSTM best teaching practices to adult education providers
  • Represent Massachusetts at national TSTM events.
TSTM Map of Massachusetts

TSTM Toolkit

Practitioners can access the TSTM toolkit for free here:

TSTM 2021-2022

TSTM 2022-2023

TSTM 2023-2024

Contact Information

For questions related to TSTM in Massachusetts, please contact Dana Varzan-Parker , Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment Policy Coordinator and MA TSTM Team Lead.

Last Updated: September 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


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