What is the effect of school uniforms on education?

While most students groan at the idea of standardized dress, many schools are introducing new uniform policies on their campuses due to research that indicates the positive effect it has on grades and social behavior.


Many proponents of school uniforms support the idea that students dressed alike will be treated alike. Much of the teasing and bullying that takes place in school is based on a student’s clothes, whether it indicates something about their financial situation or their personality. Wearing the same clothes helps make students more equal, in the eyes of both their peers and teachers.


While the correlation may not be direct, California’s Long Beach Unified School District experienced a school crime rate drop of 76 percent in 1994 after mandating school uniforms. The district also saw an all-time high attendance record. Many believe that uniforms have the effect of increasing a student’s focus, as clothes and fashion can be distracting.


Checking that students are in compliance with a regular dress code is often time consuming for teachers and administrators, something school uniforms help eliminate. “As an elementary assistant principal in two suburban districts, I can tell you that the dress code took up a great deal of my time in the area of discipline,” says Dr. Jo Murphy of the University of North Texas Department of Teacher Education and Administration.


The financial effect of school uniforms can be positive or negative depending on the uniform. In some cases, uniforms are complicated and expensive, frustrating both parents and administration. In other cases, standardized dress can save parents money if the uniform is simple, such as khaki pants and polo shirts. If the brand is not important, parents will not spend as much money on uniforms as they would supplying their child with a regular school wardrobe.


Some see the equality of school uniforms more as conformity, or a way of stifling a child. According to Dr. Alan Hilfer, a senior psychologist at the Maimonides Medical Center, “uniforms do eliminate competition, pressure, and assaults…[but] clothes are a source of expression for children, and as kids get older, they become increasingly resentful of uniforms.” Teenagers in particular become more independent at that age, and express themselves through their clothes.


FamilyEducation – School Uniforms: Pros and Cons

University of North Texas News Service

More Information:

EducationBug: Public School Uniform Statistics