School uniforms, contrary to a popular perception among parents and teachers, do not appear to have any effect on young pupils’ behavior or attendance in general, according to a recent nationwide study conducted in the United States. However, pupils who attended schools that required school uniforms reported lower levels of “school belonging” in fifth grade than students who attended schools that did not require uniforms. The conclusions were derived from data on over 6,000 school-age youngsters.
“A lot of the key arguments for why school uniforms are excellent for student behavior don’t hold up in our sample,” said Arya Ansari, the study’s primary author and assistant professor of human sciences at The Ohio State University.
“Regardless of whether the schools had a uniform policy or not, we didn’t find many variations in our behavior metrics.” Ansari collaborated on the research with Michael Shepard, an Ohio State graduate student in human sciences, and Michael Gottfried, an associate professor of education at the University of Pennsylvania.
Their findings were just published online in the journal Early Childhood Research Quarterly. According to Ansari, the problem is relevant since school uniforms are growing increasingly widespread, and not just in private schools. Uniforms were compulsory in around 20% of public schools in 2011-12, up from 3% in 1995-96. In 2011-2012, almost 6 out of every 10 private schools mandated uniforms.
While uniforms are meant to foster a sense of togetherness, they may have the opposite effect. Fashion is one way students express themselves, and it could be a significant aspect of their educational experience. When kids are unable to express their individuality, they may feel as if they do not belong as much.Arya Ansari
“There hasn’t been much study done on the benefit of school uniforms in the last 20 years or so, especially given how much their use has expanded,” Ansari, a faculty associate at Ohio State’s Crane Center for Early Childhood Research and Policy, said.
School uniform supporters claim that, among other things, they encourage improved attendance and a stronger sense of community, which leads to less bullying and violence. The researchers used data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, which followed a nationally representative sample of 6,320 youngsters from kindergarten through the end of fifth grade, to put this theory to the test.
According to studies, when schools impose a uniform policy, grades improve while tardiness, missed classes, and suspensions decrease. According to one survey, 70 percent of principals agreed that mandating school uniforms improved behavioral problems at their schools.
Every academic year, teachers judged each student on three dimensions: internalizing behavior problems (such as anxiety and social disengagement), externalizing behavior problems (such as aggression or property destruction), and social abilities.
Teachers also recorded how frequently each student was absent. Overall, school uniforms had no effect on any of the three aspects of behavior in any grade, even after controlling for a wide range of other factors that could potentially influence students’ behavior. The study did indicate that low-income pupils in schools that mandated uniforms had slightly improved attendance, but the difference was less than one day per year, according to Ansari.
The researchers also looked at self-report measures from the same pupils when they were in fifth grade. Students reported on their sense of school belonging, such as how close they felt to teachers and peers. They also discussed their experiences with bullying and social anxiety.
School uniforms were not shown to be associated with variations in bullying or social anxiety among youngsters. Those who were required to wear uniforms, on the other hand, reported lower levels of school belonging than those who attended schools with no uniform requirements. According to Ansari, the data in this study cannot explain this conclusion, although there are other potential explanations.
“While uniforms are meant to foster a sense of togetherness, they may have the opposite effect,” he says. “Fashion is one-way students express themselves, and it could be a significant aspect of their educational experience. When kids are unable to express their individuality, they may feel as if they do not belong as much.”
According to Ansari, the findings of this study should advise parents, teachers, and administrators against presuming that school uniforms have good impacts that they do not. “It’s possible that school uniforms aren’t the most effective strategy to increase student behavior and involvement.”
When students wear the same uniform, it fosters a sense of community. Everyone, like the players in a basketball, football, or cheerleading team, is immediately identified as being on the same team. When a student enrolls at Cornerstone, we feel this helps them recognize that they are a part of something bigger than themselves.