Statistics on School Uniforms

Gabrielle Applebury
Contributor: Jennifer L. Betts
School Uniforms

According to the National Center for Education Statistics between the years 2015 and 2016, about 22 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.

Academic Effects

Group of children in school

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 with school uniform statistics have shown similar results:

  • Students in India who were required to wear uniforms saw an increase in attendance after implementation.
  • According to a 2013 study, researchers found that students who wear uniforms to school saw a decrease in tardiness and an increase in academic focus.

Behavioral Effects

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 Prevention Works, school uniforms reduced gang activity in 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.

Bullying Effects

Bullying and violence in schools is a huge problem. Beyond gang violence, cliques can bully other students for what they look like or even wear. If you're wondering if school uniforms reduce bullying, statistics show that they may. Adopting a uniform policy can help curb bullying in schools in several ways:

  • Statistics on school uniforms and bullying, according to Can We Ensure Safe Schools (22), show that school uniforms can help to create a team culture and a sense of unity in schools. This unity can be beneficial for troubled students which are typically the targets of bullying.
  • A study Brigham Young University found that older students associated school uniforms with a reduction in bullying among peers.
  • A study by Trutex showed that seven out of ten students thought wearing school uniforms helped them to fit in. Additionally, nine out of ten teachers thought that uniforms helped to stop bullying among students.

Emotional Effects

The Journal of School Violence notes that those 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. The facts about school uniforms do include that 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

Financial Effects

mother and son shopping in clothing store

Many parents are concerned about the financial effects of uniforms. According to cost of school uniforms statistics, 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, however, depends entirely on the type of uniform required, so the cost of school uniforms vs. regular clothes statistics can vary depending on what a district or particular school requires. 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 are also statistics against school uniforms that 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 the number 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 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 Race, Population Studies, and America's Public School (61), the author notes that uniforms hindered student's creativity and individuality overall.
  • An interesting study focused on students physical activity level found that certain school uniforms actually discourage girls from participating in physical activities.

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. In addition to stats for school uniforms like what percent of schools wear uniforms, there are many other school uniform statistics and facts to consider. 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.

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Statistics on School Uniforms