A Scholastic Chess pilot program for third graders at Swainsboro Elementary School has been approved Dr. Kevin Judy, Superintendent of Schools, and the Emanuel County School Board for this coming school year. East Georgia State College and the Altamaha Chess Foundation (ACF) will be supporting the implementation and conducting a scientific study to determine the impact of scholastic chess on standardized test scores.
According to Dr. Lee Cheek, Dean of the School of Social Sciences at East Georgia, “the program offers the young people a great opportunity to form critical thinking skills that will enhance their lives and intellectual development.”
Scholastic Chess involves the students’ actually competing in formal tournaments conducted in accordance with rules promulgated by the United States Chess Federation. This scholastic chess is thought to result in any number of positive factors, including: self-responsibility, self-determination, decorum, preparedness, concentration, focus, strategic thinking, tactical thinking, improved class performance, and improved results on standardized tests.
Placement in the pilot program will be random, except that one class will be gifted students. This initiative has the approval of and will be in accordance with the School Board’s adoption of the I.E. Squared Program, which is designed to incorporate critical thinking into the curriculum. Chess is considered by many academics to be one of the most practical ways of learning critical thinking through experience-based teaching.
EGSC Assistant Professor of Education, Jim Beall, will be developing the curriculum and assisting with instruction along with education majors EGSC and volunteer instructors from the ACF. The same teaching methods used in Europe, including the incorporation of books and teaching plans utilized in Austria, Germany, Holland and Switzerland. Also, the program will include the purchase of license agreements allowing the students access to chess videos and teaching modules.
All costs and expenses of the pilot program will be defrayed by contributions to the school system from a 501c (3) corporation (ACF) to be formed by local Swainsboro citizens; thereby, making the pilot program self-sustaining. Depending on the success, the program may be expanded to include more classes, or classes in other schools within the Emanuel County area.
As a part of this initiative, East Georgia State College has committed to assist by conducting a statistical analysis measuring standardized test scores of the students who participate in the program, such that the college can publish a peer reviewed journal article demonstrating the program’s results. Professor John Blackburn has visited with Dr. Judy, Superintendent of Schools, and is already in the process of ensuring that publishable data will be created. This effort by East Georgia State College is part of its community outreach program.