DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education

DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education

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At the end of her first term as State Superintendent of Education in Washington D.C., Hanseul Kang wondered what more could be done to improve the organizational climate of the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE).

When she took the job in 2015, the morale of OSSE staff was at a low point. The office had been created as a part of an educational reform effort in the District of Columbia, throwing together a number of disparate functions under the same organizational umbrella. There had been a revolving door in the top leadership; Kang was the eighth superintendent in the first seven years of the agency's existence. People who had to work with the agency complained the office was uncoordinated and various functions were sometimes in conflict with one another. 

As Kang soon discovered, the frustration felt by external stakeholders was shared by most of the staff. She commissioned a climate survey that revealed that the agency staff members were deeply committed to the mission of educating K-12 youth and for the most part, got along with people in their immediate work group. What they disliked was the agency itself – most were considering other employment, few would recommend OSSE as a place to work. 

Kang recognized that addressing the employee issues would be necessary to move the agency to a place where it could better serve the District's educational goals. Over the next four years, Kang worked on several fronts to improve employee engagement with the agency. She was cognizant that every effort came at a cost in an agency where employees were already overburdened and budgets were tight. What might be the most effective steps to activate OSSE's employees' deep sense of commitment toward education into a smoothly functioning agency?

Citation: Jean Rosenthal and James N. Baron, "DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education," Yale SOM Case 21-010, May 19, 2021.