An analysis of the implementation of a school-readiness program for non-Danish speaking immigrant and refugee children in Roskilde, Denmark
Virtue, David Charles
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The purpose of this research was to build a case study of program implementation occurring within the context of a Danish project targeting the school-readiness of language minority (LM) children of pre-school age. The study focused on a three-year project in Roskilde, Denmark that involved enrolling LM children in daycare institutions, educating their parents about Danish child rearing and educational traditions, and preparing daycare staff to work with LM children and their families. The goals of the study were to identify and describe in context key factors that impacted implementation of the program, to analyze the relationships between program implementation and those factors, and to conceptualize the overall nature of the implementation process. The study employed a single, prestructured case study design and utilized qualitative methods in the tradition of naturalistic inquiry. A conceptual/analytical framework derived from studies of educational program implementation guided the collection and analysis of qualitative data. The implementation of the integration project was found to be a complex, dynamic process that consisted of four dimensions: implementation as service delivery, implementation as learning, implementation as political activity, and implementation as cultural process. Multiple factors that appeared related to implementation included structural features of the program, individual characteristics of program implementers and program targets, and other contextual factors. The most salient of these were the structural relationships among implementers that facilitated organizational learning; the competency and level of commitment of program implementers; the leadership ability of the program coordinator; and the receptivity of the target group members to the program. The study illustrated the complexity that may characterize the process of implementing educational interventions targeting LM children. It documented the interpretation and adaptation of policy between the national and local levels, and at the level of practice by program implementers. Viewing the program as organic and ever-changing, the study highlighted underlying processes of learning, culturing, and political activity that may constitute the implementation process, and it illustrated how programs may be designed to work with rather than against these processes. Additionally, the study calls for the further development of analytical models that conceptualize implementation as complex and organic.