Adoption states Twenty of the 50 US states (and California at elementary school level) - accounting for about half the children in US schools - buy instructional materials through the adoption process. These states order materials for an entire subject and age group (eg elementary school reading or middle school maths) in the same year. Publishers submit programmes to the state adoption board. These are developed to meet the state's own standards and specifications. Once approved, publishers will then market their programmes to individual districts and schools, which make the final decision about what to buy.

AYP AYP or Adequate Yearly Progress is the requirement under the No Child Left Behind legislation for schools and districts to show annual improvement towards Federal goals in a number of areas. These range from teachers' qualifications to students' test scores. Failure to make AYP can lead to a series of measures including allowing students to transfer to other schools to appointing a new school principal and other punitive measures.

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Basal Textbooks that teach the core curriculum for the majority of pupils - as opposed to supplementary materials (which are designed to assist pupils outside the mainstream or complement and enhance textbook instruction).

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Community colleges Public colleges offering two-year associate degree programmes or shorter programmes for vocational certification, in subjects such as business, healthcare, automotive and paralegal.

Companion websites Additional online resources to go with textbooks. Functions may include interactive tutorials, online tests with grading and analysis of results, chat rooms and groups, tutor support, setting and submitting assignments, additional research materials and resources.

Curriculum software Interactive instructional software for use on PCs or whiteboards. Often uses in-built adaptive assessment to adapt lessons to each child's level and provides the teacher with an analysis of what each child has mastered. Content is aligned with curriculum standards.

Custom publishing Textbooks and online learning tools created to the specification of an individual professor or faculty for a specific course. Pearson Custom Publishing now has sales of over $100m.

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Edexcel is Pearson's UK-based testing business. It offers a mix of general qualifications (such as GCSEs, AS and A Levels) and vocational qualifications (such as BTEC).

ePen Pearson's technology for onscreen marking. Exam scripts are scanned and questions allocated to markers. Using the ePen system, markers can score and annotate papers on a secure screen-based system. Candidates and schools can receive marks question-by-question, and can also compare performances to the national average. Automatic retrieval of papers at random for dual-marking means that marking and evaluation can be done in real time.

Embedded assessment in curriculum software allows instructional programmes to adapt to the level of every child. It also lets slow stakes' tests be carried out in the course of everyday teaching, or at the end of each chapter or concept.

ELT English Language Teaching or English Language Training. The institutional market for ELT (i.e. schools, colleges and language schools) is estimated to be worth $1bn worldwide, and Pearson is the world leader. Two billion people are expected to start learning English in the next decade as its dominance as the language of business, science and technology takes hold.

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Federal funds About 92% of US school education is funded by state and local taxes. The balance comes from the Federal government. Federal programmes include No Child Left Behind and Title 1, 2 and 3 funding for students in deprived areas.

Formative testing takes place throughout the school year. A slow stakes' method of assessment, it helps teachers assess what children have and have not learnt, and to predict progress towards higher stakes end of year tests.

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Instructional materials include textbooks and educational software.

Imprints are publishing brands, such as Pearson Longman, Pearson Scott Foresman and Pearson Prentice Hall.

Items, in the testing world, individual questions and answers in a testing bank or paper are known as items.

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K-12 Kindergarten to grade 12; in other words, US shorthand for school.

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NCLB No Child Left Behind, the US education act, was passed with bi-partisan support in 2002. Under the act, an additional $4bn a year is made available to support initiatives in schools. Programmes funded under NCLB include mandatory state-wide testing from grades 3 - 8 in math and reading, and Reading First, an early literacy initiative.

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Open territories Unlike adoption states, schools and districts in open territories are free to buy programmes according to their own schedule, not on a state-wide basis. In general, therefore, sales in open territories tend to be rather less lumpy and rather more economically sensitive than in adoption states.

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Personalised learning is the direction in which education at all ages is heading. Advances in technology mean that today it is possible to link teaching materials, testing and software so that students can follow a course designed to their own individual need. If a student can't master a concept, the programme adjusts to a simpler level, or adds more practice, until he or she has reached the required level. And data from their lessons lets teachers and administrators track progress and prescribe appropriate courses.

Pearson Choices Pearson publishes college programmes in a range of formats, known as Pearson Choices. In addition to a traditional full colour, hardback book, students have the choice of a shorter black and white version; an online companion site; a digital version through SafariX and in some courses a downloadable audio study guide for iPods and other MP3 players.

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SafariX Launched in 2004, SafariX now offers over 600 college titles in a secure digital format. Like 'real' books, students can search, bookmark and make notes on the pages.

School districts Local education in America is organized by school districts. The senior education executive is called the Superintendent, and is accountable to the local School Board. The School Board consists of elected members of that community. Principals of individual schools report to the District Superintendent.

Supplementary books and software help school students with particular needs. These may include those who are below grade level in a particular subject, or for whom English is a second language. They can also add additional resources to core textbooks.

Summative testing Tests and exams given to students at the end of the school year are known as summative testing. In other words, testing what a child has learnt rather than testing in order to teach. Performance is measured against progress to the state standards of competency.

Standards movement The standards movement in education is concerned with getting students to a specified level at a particular age or stage. It aims to ensure, for example, that that all nine-year olds have learned how to read at third grade level.

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Title 1 is the part of the US Elementary and Secondary Education Act that provides funding for students who are of a lower socioeconomic background and are not performing at grade-level. Funding can be used to provide additional instructional resources for this population.

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