Pearson buys Schoolnet for $230 million

The deal marks the latest in a long line of ed-tech acquisitions for Pearson as it continues its focus on digital learning.

Pearson PLC, publisher of the Financial Times and Penguin books and a major player in the ed-tech market, has agreed to buy the educational technology company Schoolnet for $230 million in cash.

London-based Pearson on April 26 said it expects the acquisition to be broadly neutral to earnings per share in 2011 and to enhance its earnings per share and return on invested capital in 2012.

New York-based Schoolnet, which aligns assessment, curriculum, and other services to help personalize instruction and improve teacher effectiveness, reportedly serves more than 5 million U.S. students from pre-kindergarten through the 12th grade.…Read More

Virginia using iPads to teach social studies


Pearson's new Social Studies app for Virginia schools.
Pearson's new social studies app for Virginia schools


In a huge step forward for K-12 education’s move toward an all-digital curriculum, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), in collaboration with education publishing giant Pearson, is implementing a pilot program that puts fourth, seventh, and ninth grade social studies curriculum on an iPad.…Read More

Mac-based districts could face SIS quandary

Pearson PowerSchool will cease to be compatible with Mac-only database servers at the end of 2010.
Pearson PowerSchool will cease to be compatible with Mac-only database servers at the end of 2010.

Education industry giant Pearson says its PowerSchool student information system (SIS) software will cease to support Macintosh database servers by Dec. 31, forcing Mac-using districts to make some tough decisions.

The announcement came as a surprise to many people, especially because PowerSchool was an Apple product before Pearson bought it from Apple in 2006. Apple earlier had acquired PowerSchool, a leading SIS product for Mac-based schools, from its eponymous owner in 2001.

PowerSchool runs on an Oracle database. While Oracle issued a Windows update some time ago, Mac users are still waiting on the Oracle 11g update that would let them run PowerSchool.…Read More

Forget grade levels: Schools try something new

Schools in Kansas City, Mo., will begin to group students by ability as opposed to age this fall.
Schools in Kansas City, Mo., will begin to group students by ability as opposed to age this fall.

As Kansas City, Mo., students return to their age-assigned classrooms this fall, they will begin to take assessments in math and reading—tests that will determine their mastery of specific skill sets and, ultimately, where they will be placed.

Instead of simply moving kids from one grade to the next as they get older, Kansas City schools will begin grouping students by ability. Once they master a subject, they’ll move up a level. This practice has been around for decades, but was generally used on a smaller scale—in individual grades, subjects, or schools. Kansas City is believed to be the largest U.S. school system to try grouping by ability.

It’s the latest effort to transform the struggling Kansas City school system. Starting this fall, officials will begin introducing 17,000 students to the new system to turn around lagging schools and increase abysmal tests scores.…Read More

Feds to shape the future of assessment

Educators say it’s time to move to multiple=

Federal officials are leading the charge to develop a new generation of summative, end-of-year exams that are delivered and scored by computer; focus on a deeper understanding of the curriculum, instead of just multiple choice; and can measure students’ readiness for college or a career more accurately.

“There is widespread concern that the most prominent assessments currently being used in the U.S. are inadequate and may have a significantly negative impact on student learning,” says Alliance for Excellent Education (AEE) Senior Fellow Robert Rothman, author of a recent issue brief called “Principles for a Comprehensive Assessment System.”…Read More

Electronic books now come in snack sizes

Who has time to read a whole book anymore? That’s the thinking behind a new publishing venture by the FT Press, a unit of Pearson, which has introduced two series of short, digital-only titles for professionals who want quick snippets of advice for $2.99 or less, reports the New York Times. The publisher, through a new imprint named FT Press Delivers, has quietly begun selling what it is calling Elements and Shorts through the Kindle electronic bookstore on and Barnes & Noble’s e-bookstore. The Elements, which the publisher has priced at $1.99, are stripped-down, 1,000- to 2,000-word versions of already-published books, while the Shorts are newly written essays of about 5,000 words, priced at $2.99. Titles include “Reengineering the Rules of Management,” by James Champy, the co-author, with Michael Hammer, of “Reengineering the Corporation,” one of the biggest business best sellers of the 1990s, and “Keeping It Honest, From Kitchen to Coca-Cola,” by Seth Goldman, co-founder and chief of Honest Tea, the maker of organic drinks. “It’s a good idea to be able to provide people with shorter, more expedient, more time-sensitive” content, said Timothy C. Moore, publisher of the FT Press…

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Software shows students’ full test history

Pearson Inform is one of many powerful new tools for analyzing school data.
Pearson Inform is one of many powerful new tools for analyzing school data.

School data systems are getting more and more sophisticated, a perusal of exhibitors at the 2010 Florida Education Technology Conference (FETC) suggested—and at least two companies now offer systems that show teachers the entire history of their students’ test results, including the results from previous school years.

Pearson Inform is what Pearson School Systems is calling the latest version of its “performance analytics” software, which helps educators manage students’ achievement data. The software allows teachers to view a list of all assessments a given student has taken, even from prior academic years; by clicking on an assessment, teachers can see how the student did, what test items he or she got wrong, and what standards those test items correlate with.

A similar program from dataMetrics Software of Harvard, Mass., called TestWiz, also enables teachers to view historical information about their students’ test results.…Read More