Acumen Partners Blog

Does ESSA Replace, Refine, or Reinforce CCSS?

No comments

The Every Students Succeeds Act (ESSA) is transforming every aspect of the education market.

One of the areas where the ground is still shaking beneath  marketers’ feet is educational standards. There is a lot of confusion about how ESSA impacts educational standards. Many are particularly unsure about the future of the Common Core Standards Initiative. Will it stay? Will it go? What will be the future of educational standards under ESSA? The education market landscape is abuzz with similar questions. Where are the answers?

To analyze the relationship between ESSA and CCSS, we need to examine:

  • What exactly is the Common Core Initiative?
  • The State of CCSS before and after ESSA

Common Core Standards

CCSS stands for Common Core State Standards. The initiative was designed by many states in collaboration. The goal was simple. States needed to create harmonization in standards for K-12 education. Simply defined, educational standards are the students’ learning goals. They represent what students should know by the end of each grade. These standards are different from the curriculum in a major way. CCSS determines what students should know and the curriculum is how they learn it.


CCSS is not, and never was, a federal initiative. States proposed, created, and implemented CCSS themselves. Therefore, the fears that ESSA is repealing CCSS are unfounded. The government never even had the authority to impose or repeal the initiative. What the federal government did do, was encourage states to implement CCSS through grant initiatives.

ESSA complicates the involvement of the federal government even further.

Comprehension of how the federal government is involved is critical. Under ESSA, the federal government has left it to the states to implement educational standards. It is now the state’s job to decide which standards to adopt. In a way, ESSA supports CCSS. It grants states the freedom to fully implement Common Core Standards according to each state’s preference.

If businesses want to succeed in the new ESSA environment, they need to keep in mind the individualized nature of the new sales domain.

Some of the specific changes businesses need to make include:


The first step is to make sure you are well-educated on ESSA. In many business practices, education comes from experience. Many businesses have seen the slow evolution of key practices over the years, and they’re determined to stick to those practices. Now the environment has changed. Businesses need to learn and learn fast. They need to educate themselves on what ESSA means, what changes it requires and what it will do to the emerging market condition.


Education and comprehension is not enough. Businesses need to implement what they’ve learned. They need to align their practices with ESSA standards. More importantly, they need to actively show their worth. The implementation will not be easy. They’ll need to change what years of practice has taught them and rapidly adapt to the revolution.


Since the power of decision-making now resides with the states, businesses need to rebuild their customer base. Gaining the confidence of the customers is what matters most. They need to unequivocally illustrate that they know the difference between ESSA and CCSS. They need to demonstrate that they are fully capable of delivering in this new environment.

ESSA has the potential to put a huge crack in business practices and success. It is imperative to ask yourself, “Am I ready to prevent or, at least, repair the damage ESSA could cause to my business?”

Steven RowleyDoes ESSA Replace, Refine, or Reinforce CCSS?

Leave a Reply