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Chess and Standard Test Scores

Published in 1998, this study evaluated the effect of student participation in an after-school chess club on standardized test scores among elementary school students in a suburban Texas school district. Within the four elementary schools studied, the fifth grade academic performance of 23 students who self-selected into after-school chess clubs in either the fourth or fifth grade was compared with the performance of 269 students in those same schools who did not participate. Student scores on the mathematics and reading portions of the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS) were averaged for treatment and control groups and then differences were compared using t-tests. The effect size in mathematics was 1.134 standard deviation units; the effect size in reading was smaller at 0.609 standard deviation units. The results were statistically significant. This study was eligible for inclusion in the systematic literature review and categorized as a Tier III study. The study provides information comparing the performance of chess club participants and non-participants in third grade, the year before students were able to participate in after school chess clubs; however, the author does not match students based on other characteristics or randomly assign students’ participation in the chess clubs. The study’s reported effects, therefore, may be biased by students’ self-selection into the treatment group.