According to the National Center for Education Statistics between the years 2013 and 2014, about 20 percent of public schools required uniforms. This total has steadily been increasing since the early 90s. When a school decides to have students wear uniforms, it is likely to face a host of approval and criticism. Looking at the statistics on school uniforms will help you decide whether to place yourself for or against this issue in the world of education.
Advocates of school uniforms argue that having students wear uniforms will help them focus more on academics than on what they are wearing. Researchers have found that students wearing school uniforms tend to listen better and therefore teachers were able to respond more quickly. Other studies have shown similar results:
- Students in India who were required to wear uniforms saw an increase in attendance after implementation.
- According to a recent study, researchers found that students who wear uniforms to school saw a decrease in tardiness and an increase in academic focus.
One of the biggest reasons for adopting a school uniform policy is to reduce crime and improve the behavior of students in a school. A few of the other behavioral effects found after adopting school uniforms include:
- According to the Los Angeles Times, school uniforms reduced gang activity in LA schools because students are not allowed to wear gang colors to school, thereby decreasing the presence of gang affiliations.
- According to a study of middle school aged kids published in the Journal of School Violence, students noted that their peers are better behaved when wearing school uniforms. They also reported an increase in perceived safety and a decrease in bullying.
The Journal of School Violence also notes that hose against school uniforms are most likely to object because of the emotional effects on students. For teenagers, self-expression is a key part of establishing an identity. Many schools also have policies in place for allowing students to express themselves despite wearing a uniform. The study on middle school students reported some additional effects of school uniforms:
- An increase in ease of attending school
- An increase in self-esteem and confidence
Many parents are concerned about the financial effects of uniforms. Some parents pay significantly more for uniforms than regular clothes for their children with an average of a few outfits costing around $600. The cost depends entirely on the type of uniform required. Uniforms that require basic khaki pants or skirts and polo shirts may be less expensive than specially designed uniforms because they may be purchased at discount stores or used clothing stores.
The Downside of School Uniforms
While many studies cite the positive impact of school uniforms, there have been several recent findings that completely contradict these claims. Many studies note that uniforms merely give the appearance of orderly, obedient children, but do not actually have a positive impact on their academic success, school attendance or behavior. In fact, these studies note just the opposite.
- A study conducted in 2012 found that there was no difference in graduation rates and amount of disciplinary incidents comparing the statistics before and after uniforms were implemented. This suggests that uniforms are an unnecessary burden on families with no real pay off.
- Researchers have cited that there is no evidence whatsoever that supports the claims that school uniforms are actually beneficial.
- In a study of consumer costs of uniforms and whether or not money is actually saved, researchers found that uniforms do not replace kid's clothing, and parents actually ended up spending more money on clothes when uniforms are required.
- In a study conducted in Korea, researchers concluded that uniforms hindered student's creativity and individuality overall.
- An interesting study focused on primary students physical activity level and found that certain school uniforms actually discourage girls from participating in physical activities during recess.
Things to Consider
Studies of the long-term effects of school uniforms are just beginning to appear. As with many studies, for every positive report, there is another report that shows little or no positive results from school uniforms. Beyond the statistics, schools, students and parents must consider the individual school's problems and population to determine whether uniforms will have a positive impact. Regardless of the results, however, most formal studies show that once uniform policies are adopted, they remain in place, even when they face strong resistance. Those who are against wearing uniforms eventually give in to the policy or move to a new school.