September 25, 2009 -- A new study conducted by the educational consulting firm Berkeley Policy Associates shows that students taking chess once per week for at least 20 weeks had significantly greater score gains - almost 16 points higher - on math standardized tests than their peers who hadn't taken chess. The study also showed improved classroom attendance among third graders and Special Education students who took chess. The study, released today by the Berkeley Chess School, is part of BCS' Oakland Chess outreach program for children at five Title 1 schools. The K-5 elementary schools Learning Without Limits, Esperanza, Santa Fe, Maxwell Park, and Futures are participating in our two-year program to help raise test scores and improve classroom behavior while inspiring a love of learning.
"We always knew chess worked, but this study suggests that chess may help kids from all backgrounds not only thrive academically, but help them stay in school," said BCS founder and president Elizabeth Shaughnessy. "Our program aims to ignite a lifelong curiosity and love of learning."
Chess trains young minds in the building blocks of learning, including memory and concentration, strategic and critical thinking, and creativity. It is virtually unique among enrichment activities in the intense amount of problem-solving involved. "In each chess game there are 70-90 moves, and the game only gets more complex with each move," said Shaughnessy. This could be the key to its effectiveness as a training tool for math problem-solving, she said.
But chess also benefits the "whole child" by teaching patience and self-discipline, and helping kids to look at the potential consequences of their actions. "In chess, first you look for a good move; then you look for a better move," said Shaughnessy. The improved judgment kids develop over the chessboard can benefit them far beyond the classroom in their everyday lives, she said.
>> Read the full press release (pdf)
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