Pearson PLC—owner of the Financial Times, The Economist magazine, Penguin Books, and other major media outlets—is paying $2.5 billion to buy National Computer Systems Inc. (NCS), the largest processor of K-12 student assessment tests in the United States.

The deal, which was announced July 31, marks a further step in Pearson's efforts to move beyond its traditional strengths in print media to profit from the growing emphasis on internet-based learning. The company also counts Computer

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