Lorene Childs Quay
This chapter will discuss research related to academic skill development in the mentally retarded. Since the retarded at the lower end of the intelligence scale (IQ below 50) have not been demonstrated to be capable of developing academic skills to any appreciable extent, the concern here will be with those retardates classified for educational purposes as educable. They are defined as retardates "capable of some degree of achievement in traditional academic subjects such as reading and arithmetic . . ." ( Heber, 1959, p. 98). The IQ range for this group is from 50 to 75 or 80. Although basic learning research is related to academic skill development, it will not be reviewed here because it is the major emphasis of other chapters. Educational procedures, including educational placement, curriculum development, and teaching method, are related to the development of academic skills; and this chapter will review theories, philosophies, and research on such educational procedures. At present these procedures are based mainly on subjective experience and untested assumptions, rather than on research. However, when the methodological problems involved in the conduct of research of this nature are considered, the paucity of adequate research is understandable. Before research contributions are reviewed, some of these methodological problems--the criterion problem, the sampling problem, and the problem of experimental controls--will be discussed.
The last part of the chapter will be a review of research on academic skills, per se, and on the relationship of other variables to the development of such skills.
A prerequisite for evaluating educational procedures for the retarded is the development of criteria of effectiveness. It is difficult to find agree-