McKinney (1983), likewise, noted that
the central concept that emerges from this research is that many LD students have not acquired efficient strategies for processing task information and therefore cannot use their abilities and experience to profit from conventional instruction. Most of this research, however, also demonstrates that they are capable of acquiring the strategies that account for competent performance and that they can improve their academic skills and adaptive functioning when they are taught task-appropriate strategies. This conceptualization of learning disabilities contrasts with the traditional view that emerged during the 1960’s that LD students suffered from relatively enduring deficits in the development of specific abilities, such as perception and language, which impaired their capacity to perform academic tasks. (McKinney, 1983, p. 131)
McKinney, however, was critical of some of the Minnesota institute’s conclusions regarding identification of learning disabilities:
First, the conclusions of this institute and the implications they draw suggest that LD students are not handicapped in any significant way apart from underachievement. In my opinion this conclusion is not supported by the evidence presented in the Minnesota report or by that obtained by the other four institutes….
Second, the conclusions of this group imply not only that special education services for LD students are ineffective but that they are unnecessary and potentially do more harm than good. The evidence for this implication appears to be based on research of placement team decision making as opposed to research on instructional processes and intervention.
Third, …the idea that we provide intervention at the point of referral has intuitive appeal, …and may be worthy of additional consideration…; but the issues of what constitutes intervention, exactly who receives the intervention, who provides the intervention, and whether parents are involved in planning the intervention were not discussed in the report. (McKinney, 1983, pp. 137–138)
Whether Keogh’s and McKinney’s praise of some of the institutes’ work and McKinney’s criticisms of some of the Minnesota institute’s work are justifiable is debatable. There is no doubt that all of the institutes’ work has remained influential up until the present day in terms of theory and practice. With particular reference to the Minnesota work, there are those, today, who agree with McKinney’s criticisms and those who do not. We address some of these influences and disagreements in our discussion of the Turbulent Period.
Direct Instruction. In the 1970s, Sigfried Engelmann, Wesley Becker, and their colleagues developed a number of intervention programs for language, reading, and math (Englemann, Becker, Hanner, & Johnson, 1978, 1988; Englemann & Osborn, 1977). Often referred to as Direct Instruction, these programs emphasized the systematic teaching of language subskills and the integration of these subskills into broader language competence. Several studies, including large-scale evaluations such as Project Follow-Through (Abt Associates, 1976, 1977) found Direct Instruction highly effective.
Learning Disabilities Professional Organization Turmoil
Toward the end of the 1970s and beginning of the 1980s, several members of DCLD began voicing dissatisfaction with their parent organization, CEC. Among other things, they complained that DCLD was not receiving its fair share of services from CEC. In addition, they were upset with CEC’s policy of not allowing individuals to be members of DCLD without being a member of CEC. More relevant to our discussion of the history of the learning disabilities field, however, were philosophical differences brewing between the leaders in DCLD. Many of the younger, rising leaders in learning disabilities were disenchanted with the older guard’s tacit, and sometimes explicit, acceptance of assessment and intervention approaches embracing perceptual and psychological processing, such as the ITPA.