When left to decide what clothes to wear to school, students do not always make choices that adults agree with. While the majority may at least minimally conform to adults’ ideas about what’s appropriate, a few may clearly push the limits. Some may arrive at school in T-shirts that bear slogans or images promoting drugs and alcohol, or that display a variety of messages that conflict with values the schools are trying to promote. Others may swagger around the halls in gang-related garb. Still others may show up in sexually provocative clothing. These issues, as well as a desire to minimize socioeconomic tensions between the "haves" and "have nots," have spurred some schools to adopt more stringent dress codes or to require students to wear uniforms.
The Effects of Student Uniforms on Attendance, Behavior Problems, Substance Use, and Academic Achievement
In this study, published in The Journal of Educational Research (February 13, 1998), the researchers concluded that requiring students to wear uniforms has no direct effect on substance abuse, behavioral problems, or school attendance. They found, in fact, that the students they studied who were required to wear uniforms actually scored lower on standardized achievement tests than did a comparable group not required to wear them.
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.