Seeking your help


I hope you don’t mind if I pick your brains and mine your experience!  Massachusetts has a voluntary license program for adult education teachers; as a license holder and a coach for candidates, I am working with the licensure program to improve and increase our collection of resources.  Candidates are required to submit an extensive portfolio with lesson plans and “explanatory statements” on various aspects of educational theory and practice as well as how these are reflected in their lessons.  One of those areas is learning disabilities.  Here are the relevant instructions for an ABE portfolio (the slight differences in the ESOL instructions are not important here):

Part One - Adult Learning

  1. Briefly discuss a theory or research on adult learning that informs your instructional design.
  2. Describe how you applied this theory/research to the instructional practices illustrated in the lesson plans submitted in this portfolio.
  3. Discuss two socio-cultural and/or personal factors (e.g., gaps in prior education, age, trauma) and how they affect adult learning.
  4. Explain how these factors informed the design of the lessons in this portfolio. 

Part Two - Learning Disabilities

  1. Explain how your knowledge of learning disabilities informs your instructional design.     
  2. Describe how you have modified or would modify instruction to meet the needs of a student with a documented or suspected learning disability.

We are in the process of expanding our recommended resources, especially those freely available online.  We are sadly deficient in this area! I would love to hear your suggestions for resources that would be useful for our candidates.  I appreciate any help you can give.

--Wendy Quiñones 


Hi, Wendy -

Thanks for bringing your question to the community.  A couple of initial thoughts on resources that would be good to share with candidates are below:

The Playlists: Disability Resources for WIOA Practitioners

Each playlist is a carefully selected set of links to resources such as toolkits, reports, online courses, and videos on a specific topic related to improving service to individuals with disabilities.  The resources are intended for use by workforce development professionals, employers, rehabilitation services providers, adult educators, and other practitioners.

Learning to Achieve: Research-Based Resources and Professional Development to Increase Achievement of Adults with Learning Disabilities

Learning to Achieve is a suite of resources designed to build teacher effectiveness in providing instruction for adults with learning disabilities (LD). It includes an integrated set of research-based resources and professional development materials available for self-study or trainer-led events.  In order to increase the reach and accessibility of these materials, more of the training has been made available for online, self-study.

I'm curious what Massachusetts' voluntary certification provides teachers working in state-recognized adult education programs?  What are the incentives for teachers to pursue this certification? 


Mike Cruse

Disabilities and Equitable Outcomes Moderator

Hi Mike,

Interesting that you should ask about incentives for teachers to seek licensure -- because there aren't any.  At one point there was talk about career ladders and a "master teacher" status, but neither has come about.  Still, some people want to do it, and we're hoping to make it a little easier.



Hi, Wendy -

Thanks for your response. I hope some the LINCS resources I shared will be useful to your adult educators.  I also wonder what you might be able to share with us about what you and others in Mass. are doing to try and bring about a change in the idea that adult educators deserve incentives - like K-12 teachers are often given - to become licensed teachers?  

What's happening in other states around adult education licensure, and incentives to pursue it?

Mike Cruse

Disabilities and Equitable Outcomes Moderator

Wendy, Mike and others,

Here's some more context on the Massachusetts Adult Basic Education license, as I understand it. Wendy and others from Massachusetts who are familiar with this license, please share your perspectives. 

Many years ago when the Massachusetts Department of Education (now called the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) proposed an adult basic education license, one option they considered was making it mandatory. There was an outcry from the field, particularly from community-based organizations, then and perhaps still a majority of the publicly-funded ABE programs, that this would create a daunting obstacle to recruiting excellent teachers.  This was in large part because in Massachusetts ours is a field where part-time teachers and those who do not teach full-time in public school-sponsored adult basic skills programs are poorly compensated for their efforts. The decision was to make the license voluntary. The license was developed by some of our field's brightest, most experienced, talented and committed people, and it has very high standards. I wondered then -- and still do -- what the incentives might be to spend long hours to meet these standards. As it turns out, only a small percentage of the field has pursued the license, but those who do have an important incentive for doing so. Professional pride. I am humbled and sometimes surprised to see how much work some teachers in Massachusetts have put into achieving this license, to receive this recognition from their peers and to take pride in what they have demonstrated they are able to do as teachers. Of course, I wish they could also be financially compensated for their demonstrated teaching abilities, and someday hope that will be possible, as do some of my Massachusetts adult basic education colleagues.


David J. Rosen


David, thanks for adding a bit of historical context around the issue of adult education licensure in Massachusetts.  Professional pride is a big part of what motivates many educators.  Unfortunately, in many states the costs associated with even applying for licensure can be burdensome.  For most K-12 educators, there is the incentive of obtaining licensure because it is a pathway to earning a salaried position.  Unfortunately, that isn't generally true for adult educators. 

I wonder if Massachusetts has done anything to help reduce, or eliminate, the costs associated with applying for licensure?  On the other end of things, does the state, or its affiliated partners, publicly recognize individuals who've earned their adult education licensure?  How do we create a larger culture of professional pride in adult education, the likes of which K-12 educators seem to have in National Board Certification?

Mike Cruse

Disabilities and Equitable Outcomes Moderator