Pearson Commits to Measure and Report Impact on Learning Outcomes

Pearson Commits to Measure and Report Impact on Learning Outcomes

World’s leading learning company puts pursuit of efficacy at centre of strategy
Friday, November 15, 2013 - 9:15am

CONTENT: Press Release

November 15, 2013 /3BL Media/ - Pearson, the world’s leading learning company, today announces a series of unique commitments designed to measure and increase the company's impact on learning outcomes around the world.

As part of a new global education strategy which sets out to help more people make progress in their lives through learning, Pearson today:

  • Committed to report audited learning outcomes measures and targets alongside its financial accounts, covering its whole business by 2018
  • Shared plans to “institutionalise” efficacy across Pearson’s organisation, creating dedicated focus and incentives towards learning outcomes targets for all business areas
  • Published its Efficacy Framework – Pearson’s approach for ensuring its products and services enable students to learn what they need to make progress – for feedback and improvement;
  • Promised to develop a global research network to gather the evidence needed on the “path to efficacy”, and openly to share and broker debate around its findings.

The company’s ambition is to ensure that its work is driven by an ever-clearer understanding of how it can maximise and measure its impact on learning outcomes, drawing on the lessons of the healthcare industry to invest in research and development and build new partnerships that will address the most pressing unmet needs in education.

Identifying dialogue and collaboration with the wider education community as crucial to accelerate progress, Pearson also publishes two reports. The first, Asking More: The Path to Efficacy, sets out the imperative for measuring and improving learning outcomes worldwide. The second, The Incomplete Guide to Delivering Learning Outcomes, shares in detail the company’s new approach to contributing to that goal and the progress it has made so far.

Asking More: The Path to Efficacy brings together some of the world’s leading education experts to highlight how research and data collection can enable a revolutionary degree of rigour in measuring and improving the success of learning products, educational programmes and institutions.

The report argues that efficacy in education is ‘as possible and as pressing’ as in healthcare, and includes contributions from global leaders in education and business including Andreas Schleicher of the OECD, Vicky Colbert of Escuela Nueva, Geoff Mulgan of NESTA and Jon Iwata of IBM.

Pearson will now extend this conversation by creating a new global research network, connecting Pearson’s internal research with outside experts, working together to address barriers to efficacy and big unanswered questions in education. The network will inform Pearson’s strategy and product development, and Pearson will share findings openly through a new online platform, Open Ideas.

Also published today is The Incomplete Guide to Delivering Learning Outcomes. Authored by Sir Michael Barber (@michaelbarber9), Pearson’s Chief Education Advisor, and Saad Rizvi (@saadhrizvi), Senior Vice President, Efficacy, the report shares Pearson’s “Efficacy Framework”, a Review process designed to evaluate and improve impact on learning outcomes, and set out the company’s strategy, initiatives and insights in applying it.

Efficacy now moves from a pilot programme in Pearson to the centrepiece of its global education strategy. Every part of Pearson’s new organisation will have a senior leader with a specific brief for improving efficacy, and product roles will be reshaped to focus on delivering outcomes rather than inputs. This new network of efficacy leaders will ensure that the Efficacy Framework and its lessons are applied throughout the company, reviewing all investments over a value of $1m and reporting publicly on Pearson’s progress and impact.  Pearson will also include the delivery of learning outcomes as a central pillar of its HR policies including recruitment, training, performance management and reward.

John Fallon, Pearson’s chief executive, said:

“Pearson’s purpose is to help people make progress in their lives through learning. So, we better be sure that we can demonstrate that progress, in all we do, in a meaningful way.

“Our aim is to ensure that every action, every decision, every process, and every investment we make will be driven by a clear sense and understanding of how it will make a measurable impact on learning outcomes. We need to institutionalise this process, and make it our natural habit.

“When we publish our annual report five years from now, we will, in a rigorous and externally audited way, be able to report on the progress we have made in improving learner outcomes.  To achieve this, we will need to collectively agree on the learner outcomes that we will track, measure and strive to achieve. 

“That work is a priority starting from today and we will be reaching out across the education community to consult on where we should be directing our energies.”

Michael Barber, Pearson’s Chief Education Advisor, said:

“Education is so linked to the wellbeing of individuals and of the economy that we need much more rigorous systems in place to ensure it is working, urgently.  Thanks to the growing body of research and data, and the opportunity of technology, achieving efficacy in education is not only as pressing, but now just as possible as in healthcare.

“Global education challenges are too steep for any one organisation to pursue independently. We are sharing the progress we are making so that others can challenge and support us to move more rapidly. Collaboration, partnership, and co-creation are the only way to transform education at the pace the learners we serve require.”


1. Asking More: The Path to Efficacy, is edited by Sir Michael Barber and Saad Rizvi and features contributions from nine global experts, setting out the progress which can be made through a renewed focus on outcomes.

The authors are:

  • Geoff Mulgan, NESTA
  • Barbara Chow, Education Program Director, Hewlett Foundation
  • John Iwata, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Communications and Citizenship, IBM
  • Vicky Colbert, Founder, Escuela Nueva Foundation
  • Rukmini Banerji, Programs Director, Pratham Schools
  • Professor Michael C Crow, President, Arizona State University
  • Andreas Schleicher, Special Advisor on Education Policy, OECD
  • Sir Ken Robinson, education, arts and creativity expert
  • Peter Hill, assessment expert, former CEO of Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority and Senior Adviser to the Hong Kong Assessment and Examinations Authority

Geoff Mulgan highlights measureable impact as the emerging acid test for consumers and investors; IBM’s Jon Iwata on the huge potential to analyse Big Data to answer unaddressed questions and support real-time learning decisions; Vicky Colbert sharing her experience of building an outcomes oriented approach from ground up; and Professor Michael Crow on the role of technology in combining high quality educational experiences with wide access.

2. The Incomplete Guide to Delivering Learning Outcomes is authored by Sir Michael Barber and Saad Rizvi, with a foreword from former Pearson CEO Marjorie Scardino and an introduction from John Fallon, CEO of Pearson.

3. The ‘Efficacy Framework’ scores across four areas considered critical to securing outcomes [i].  An interactive framework version was published today on a new website for feedback from the education community at

Reviews recommend how products can improve learner outcomes, for example by using data analytics, digital technology or by applying research insights. Pearson are now using the approach to determine how they invest and acquire, to drive innovation, product development and a new research agenda, and their recruitment, professional development and rewards for employees.

4. Pearson has also begun to build a new online research platform to provide a global bank of evidence on best practices in education. Open Ideas, a new website, has been created to make the latest evidence and ideas in education accessible to all, and to encourage an open debate about learning. It will be launched in 'beta' in the first quarter of 2014.


Pippa Vaux
CATEGORY: Education