School uniforms and academic performance

One thing that I have always wondered is that if school uniforms have an effect on academic performance. Throughout my life I have attending public school, which requires no uniform. I have also attended a private catholic school that had a very strict school dress code. I have been successful at both schools and I was curious to find a correlation between what you wear and your academic performance. The debate has been going on for a long time, many believe that school uniforms promote professionalism while others say no dress code is better because of the choices that one has. For this blog I will look at the benefits of both sides and then review a case study that will show the answer.

Private schools typically enforce a moderately specific dress code for their students to wear. According to an article in “Pacific Standard” magazine, school uniforms actually decrease gang violence. One very positive aspect of wearing school uniforms is that outsiders can be identified easier, because they can be spotted. One specific case study that I had examined for the purpose of this blog is that 160 schools were involved and it was found that females had the largest improvement of all in the study. One very important trait of wearing a school uniform is that it is believed to create a more serious atmosphere which can lead to to better motivation for one’s grades. Wearing dress code clothes also doesn’t allow for social divide, because everyone is wearing the same thing. Besides the money to invest in at the beginning, you do not have to buy many clothes if you have a dress code. Although I did find an interesting study where 90% of 7th and 8th graders didn’t like uniforms.

I also attended public school during a portion of my schooling. It was nice to not have to dress up and wear a uniform. One benefit of a public school is cost, it does not cost as much to attend a public school as it does to attend a private school. Diversity is also a great attribute of attending a public school, you have lots of people with different backgrounds attending it. The one thing that I personally enjoyed about public school was having the ability to wear whatever I wanted to wear. Public schools do not prepare you for the real work world though, in some instances. One can wear a suit and tie everyday and end up being  a construction worker on the opposing side of things. Public school creates a divide in social class because you can see who has the best clothing, that is probably the biggest downfall of  not having a dress code.

To find the final answer and know if school uniforms have an effect on one’s grades, I looked at various studies conducted. The biggest one that I found in terms of summarizing my findings came from the southwest United States. This particular study examined not just grade performance but behavior as well. The findings shocked me. I found that uniforms actually improved attendance indefinitely. The biggest conclusion that I found was that uniforms have a  positive influence on student attendance in secondary schools, meaning 6-12 grade. There was a raise in .3-.4% points. There was little evidence on grade achievement.

I think there is no definite answer to my proposed question of if school uniforms affect school grades. I think there are tons of 3rd variables that go into play with it. I think you can have a great public school with no dress code and compare it to a not so good private school. I think there are many factors in finding an answer. I believe that uniforms are important in terms of creating a serious atmosphere  but comfort is equally important too.


6 thoughts on “School uniforms and academic performance

  1. Jeffrey Sherman

    This is a very well conducted and thorough analysis, but I think a third variable needs to be factored in when comparing public and private schools. If one has the means to attend private school and afford a school uniform, it is likely that they come from a wealthier socioeconomic background and had greater access to information and schooling. As an attendee of both private and public school in my life, I can say with certainty I enjoyed the no dress code policy opposed to a uniform. I also think that it’s important to express a degree of individuality, as each person is unique and should be able to wear whatever makes them comfortable. Additionally, I believe time was simply wasted in private school due to the time spent enforcing such a policy. As you can see , the results supporting and rejecting school uniforms increasing grades is heavily contradictory, which leads me to believe there are more third variables that tie into the equation.

  2. Jovian Ebony Osborne-pantlitz

    I attended a public high school and uniform wasn’t mandatory until my senior year of high school. I was so upset because it was my last year and fashion is the way I express myself. Studies do show that uniform lessens bullying but ignorance is bliss. Therefore, kids will always find something to talk about. I agree with William as far as uniform creating unity but I believe uniform stifles kids from creating.

  3. Ahmed Mohamed

    I have also worn a uniform in high school but the interesting aspect is that it was a public school. I have heard this argument a thousand times and it got frustrating after awhile. One interesting quesiton that was brought up is whether wearing a uniform can also deter creativity as it prohibited your personal expression?

  4. Alexandra Paxton

    As someone who wore a uniform in school I know they have their upsides and downsides. An upside was I could wake up 20 minutes later because I didn’t have to spend any time picking out what I was going to wear that day. A downside was that no one could truly express themselves through fashion in school, and those that tries usually got detention. My school was very strict about the uniforms any many times friends of mine would get pulled out of class to change or go home. Because of this the uniform had a negative impact on their grades because they were missing class. Either viewpoint can be taken when debating the effectiveness of a school uniform on grades but I personally did not mind it too much.

  5. Sean Patrick Hickey

    I don’t know about it helping me get better grades, but after disliking the uniform for many years I came to not mind it so much simply because I never had to think about what I was wearing to school, it was always he same thing, not that I spend much time picking out my clothes anyway but it was nice way to save time. I wish it could have helped me on tests more though

  6. William Joseph Robbins-cole

    I believe that school uniforms would be beneficial for athletic performance. I came from a school where we all had to wear jacket and tie to school everyday, as well as to games. This created a sense of unity among the team and students. Much like with the Penn State uniforms they created a sense of purpose and a higher sense of team worth over individual. The best sports teams I have played for all had this principle and it certainly help us.

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