Research Findings

Chess for Success Study, Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, 2006

In 2003, the United States Congress awarded $150,000 for a longitudinal study of Chess for Success to be conducted by the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory. The study evaluated students involved in the Chess for Success program with a matched comparison group of students from the same school with similar characteristics who did not participate in the program. One of the misconceptions about chess is that only the “smart” kids join the club which is why they excel. The study found that Chess for Success clubs attract children with a broad range of abilities including special education students and English Language Learners (ELLs).

The research suggests that increases in the proximal areas will have a positive long-term affect on assessment scores. The three-year study also looked at (a) Oregon math and
reading assessment scores, (b) Coopersmith Inventory of student self-esteem, and (c) a project-developed Student Behavior Rating Scale between CFS and a comparison group
of non-participants. 

  • The study found a statistically significant difference in the math RIT scores for the participant group compared to the comparison group. An independent t-test was conducted to examine the differences of means between the Chess for Success and comparison students in the fourth grade. A significant difference was detected between the two groups (t=2.941, p<0.05). This
    suggests that the Chess for Success program is excellent in engaging high-performing students and keeping them involved in school. The high proportion of girls participating is especially encouraging.
  • A comparison of Chess for Success students by state, district, and school was conducted to examine the percentage of students who exceeded, met, and did not meet reading and math benchmarks in 2006. Chess for Success students (91.7%) had a higher percentage in meeting or exceeding standards in reading in 2006 than the state (86.7%) and district (87.7%) percentages; and Chess for Success students (93.0%) had a higher percentage in meeting or exceeding standard in math in 2006 than state (88.3%) and district (89.7%) percentages.

The schools participating in the study were as follows:

  • Arleta Elementary
  • Astor Elementary
  • Atkinson Elementary
  • Beach Elementary
  • Boise-Eliot Elementary
  • Bridger Elementary
  • Chief Joseph Elementary
  • Creston Elementary
  • Humboldt Elementary
  • Kenton Elementary
  • Lee Elementary
  • Lewis Elementary
  • Scott Elementary
  • Vernon Elementary
  • Vestal Elementary
  • Woodlawn Elementary
  • Woodstock Elementary

Coaches agreed that the program was having a positive impact on their students. Participation was:
• Improving students’ ability to follow directions, plan ahead, and think about the future.
• Improving students’ academics, attention/focus, behavior, concentration, confidence (especially in primary grades), convergent/divergent thinking, logical reasoning, patience, problem solving (looking at things more carefully and learning strategies for dealing with different people), and self-esteem.
• Teaching commitment, consequences, cooperative behavior, resource management, sportsmanship (shake your opponents’ hand, “learn from a loss—it’s not the end of the world,” “you’re not always going to win,” “setbacks happen”) and chess (playing better and taking more time looking at the board).
• Providing a safe, happy, comfortable, social environment.

Read the report in full.

For more information, contact Julie Young, Executive Director