Chess Academics


Relationship between Chess and Academic Achievement by Dr. Robert Ferguson

Since 1971, the school district of Philadelphia has enjoyed state and national prominence because of the achievements of its chess teams from Frederick Douglass Elementary School and Vaux Junior High School (to which Douglass sends its graduates).

Douglass Elementary School won 13 consecutive Pennsylvania State Championships (Douglass was only first outscored by my team in 1988), as well as numerous national titles.

Virtually all of the Douglass-Vaux players are inner-city minority youths.

The effect of this intensive chess activity has been very beneficial to the students academically.

Whereas about 30% of the graduates of Vaux Junior High School drop out before completing high school, nearly all Vaux chess players have gone on to college.

While pre and post-testing of these chess players has not occurred, common sense indicates that their chess experience had an extremely positive affect on them academically (Shutt, 1989).

Several educators have noted academic gains. In Dr. Christiaens research (reviewed within the thinking section), academic results at the end of the first year were significant at the .01 level, and results by the end of the second year of the study were significant at the .05 level.

Although the literature discusses academic gains, only Christiaens study presented quantitative evidence.

Chess Development in Aberdeens Primary Schools was a study funded by the Scottish Executive Education Departments Sponsored Research Programme in alliance with Aberdeen City Council.

The study provides an in-depth account of the impact of the final year (2003 Р2004) of a three year New Opportunities Fund (NOF) programme of Out of School Hours activities which focused on the development of chess coaching for P4 pupils and chess after school clubs.

The programme was launched in 2001 and in its first year, chess development work was initiated in seven primary schools in the Northfield group – Muirfield, Westerton, Quarryhill, Holy Family, Bramble Brae, Middlefield and Smithfield schools. The project has since been extended.

This Scottish Research Project conducted in Aberdeen, Scotland found dramatic improvement in attendance, social, and academic skills.

Note: A full report of this report and analysis will be posted on the site in its entirety at the conclusion of this Series. This will include Tables that indicate the results of the studies.

This concludes Part III of the Chess in Education Series – Stay Tuned for the more !