Pearson and America's Choice Announce Acquisition Agreement

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Companies Will Extend Reach of Research-Based Innovative School Improvement Solutions.

Pearson, the world's leading education company, today signed a letter of agreement to acquire America's Choice, a leading innovator in research-based strategies to help schools, districts, and states dramatically improve student achievement. Pearson's extraordinary resources and technological expertise will facilitate the adaptation and reach of America's Choice's comprehensive and proven school improvement model to a global community of educators and students.

In recent years, education leaders and policymakers have placed heavy emphasis on school improvement strategies for education reform. "School improvement" is generally understood to describe a comprehensive, integrated approach to improving student achievement that brings together instruction, assessment, leadership development, professional development and coaching, and ongoing consulting services. The Obama Administration has identified more than 5,000 schools in need of such improvement, and allocated nearly $17 billion dollars to fund the efforts by states and districts.

"Pearson and America's Choice share a common vision for school improvement centered on effective instruction, strong school leadership, and sustainable change in the school performance and culture," said Will Ethridge, Chief Executive Officer for Pearson in North America. "When we combine America's Choice's efficacy with the data- and technology-driven personalized learning capability for which Pearson is known, we can respond quickly and effectively to the rapidly growing demand for comprehensive reform in our nation's most struggling schools."

America's Choice is one of the most effective and highly regarded K-12 internationally benchmarked, research-based school reform companies in the US. It began as a program of the National Center on Education and Economy (NCEE) in 1998 and became a private organization in 2004.

Much of the design of America's Choice is based on research on the effective education practices of more than 20 countries with strong track records of educating all students to high levels. That research, conducted by the National Center on Education and the Economy over many years, was translated by America's Choice into instructional materials aligned to standards, safety net programs to help students who are struggling to get back on track for meeting standards, and extensive professional development and coaching for teachers and principals. America's Choice has worked closely with more than 2000 schools in 38 states to plan and implement a standards-based system.

Last year, a landmark study of school improvement ("School Improvement by Design," link: ) released by the Consortium for Policy Research in Education reported that the America's Choice programs performed significantly better than their major competitors in the field, and the study's researchers stated, "Students in America's Choice schools grew at a significantly faster rate than students in comparison schools and faster than students in all other schools."

"The NCEE Board of Trustees is very pleased by this acquisition," said Marc Tucker, President of NCEE. "NCEE launched America's Choice years ago as a research and development project to create a powerful engine for school improvement in the United States. Pearson's acquisition of America's Choice will make that engine available to many more students in the United States and around the world than we ever could have alone."

"America's Choice decided earlier in the year to solicit indications of interest in the company as a means to expand our mission to reach larger numbers of students, schools, and districts across America" said Judy Codding, President and Chief Executive Officer of America's Choice. "After much interest and an extensive review, we chose Pearson, a partner with a deep commitment to improving student performance. This is a wonderful opportunity to enhance the resources we provide by combining our proven education model with Pearson's unparalleled technology and world-wide resources."

Pearson is exploring opportunities to bring the America's Choice model to an international market, where other school improvement organizations are gaining traction. Just last week, Pearson also launched a school improvement business in the UK and appointed Anders Hultin, an internationally recognized leader in the school improvement community, as its CEO (link:

In the US, America's Choice will operate alongside Pearson's K12 Solutions business, an approved school improvement provider. America's Choice will be a core brand of Pearson, and its relationships with current clients will not change. Codding will continue as CEO through the transition and will move into a senior advisory role for Pearson in 2011. Ken James will become President of America's Choice at the close of the acquisition and will assume broader responsibilities for day-to-day oversight of America's Choice. Codding will report to Steven Dowling, Pearson Executive Vice President, who will oversee America's Choice.

"To date, our challenge as educators has been to replicate efficacy for vastly more students, and expand the impact of promising programs that weren't reaching enough students to make a significant difference," said Dowling. "This agreement allows the combined forces of America's Choice and Pearson to build an infrastructure to bring effective programs to scale."

The agreement is subject to a Hart-Scott-Rodino review and is projected to close in about a month.

Pearson (NYSE:PSO), the global leader in education services, technology and school solutions, provides innovative print and digital education materials for preK through college, student information systems and learning management systems, teacher professional development, career certification programs, and testing and assessment products that set the standard for the industry. Pearson's other primary businesses include the Financial Times Group and the Penguin Group. For more information about Pearson School, go to

America's Choice is a leading educational organization offering comprehensive, proven solutions to the complex problems educators face in the era of accountability. America's Choice has an unparalleled history as a national thought leader and as the creator of research-based school improvement solutions that work for states, districts, and schools. America's Choice offers groundbreaking school design programs, solutions, and professional development programs, created in collaboration with world leaders in education. Its instructional solutions intervention programs are comprised of the Mathematics Navigator™, Literacy Navigator™, Ramp-Up Mathematics™, Ramp-Up Literacy™, and America's Choice Writing Aviator™.


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