"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, October 18, 2013

Chess in school: A good move or patzer move?

Submitted to the Sun Sentinel (Florida), Oct 19
Working with an organization called First Move, three Sunrise schools plan to include formal instruction in chess for second and third graders believing that it "provides big academic benefits," ('City incorporating chess at three elementary schools," October 19).
Neither the article nor the First Move website mention any evidence that chess helps school performance.
I was able to find only one study on chess and academic performance, published in 1992 by the American Chess Foundation: The Effect of Chess on Reading Scores, by Stuart Margulies: Fifty-three children in the middle-elementary grades in New York City voluntarily participated in a chess program in 1990 and 1991. It is claimed that these students made better gains in reading over the year than comparison children, moving from the 57.69 percentile to the 63.07 percentile, a gain of 5.37 percentiles. Comparisons, we are told, showed no additional gain.
A look at the actual scores shows that six of the 53 children made unbelievable (and highly unlikely) gains, ranging from 38 to 66 percentiles. If we remove these outliers, the difference between the groups is less than two percentiles, a very modest gain. The case for chess, in other words, depends on unusual gains made by six children in one study done 20 years ago.
In contrast there is plenty of evidence that improving school libraries helps literacy development. I wonder if the folks in Sunset have considered improving their school and classroom libraries as a means of improving reading and academic performance in general?
Stephen Krashen
patzer = weak chess player
Source: Margulies, S. 1992. The Effect of Chess on Reading Scores: District Nine Chess Program Second Year Report, by Stuart Margulies: American Chess Foundation.
original article: City incorporating chess at three elementary schools

1 comment:

  1. See film Brooklyn Castle about chess champions and benefits of learning and playing chess