The School Uniforms: Effects of Uniforms on Attendance, Behavior and Academic Achievement


  1. Introduction
  2. Background

Traditionally, the use of school uniforms in private schools and other academics environments was the distinct feature of educational institutions. However, in the course of time the debate concerning the use of school uniforms emerged because, on the one hand the questions surrounding the issue was whether the use of school uniforms is the democratic policy in relation to students and their opportunities to wear the clothes which they like. On the other hand, proponents of school uniforms insisted that the wide use of school uniforms is essential for the maintenance of discipline and elimination of inequality among students that can facilitate the teaching and learning process. Hence, such controversies emerged contributing to the detailed study of the issue. In this regard, it is worth mentioning the fact that the problem of using school uniforms raised in previous studies does not give the direct answer to the question whether school uniforms are worth implementing or not and what outcomes and effects of school uniforms are, especially in regard to children, their self-perception, social relations and academic achievements. In actuality, the debate over the use of school uniforms persists since proponents and opponents of school uniforms still cannot come to agreement on whether school uniforms should be implemented in educational institutions or not. In fact, the positive answer to this question would be possible, if school uniforms have only positive effects. However, recent researches show that school uniforms have both positive and negative effects on students. In such a situation, it is important to find out whether positive effects of school uniforms outweigh negative one that would either justify the use of school uniforms or contributed to the ban of school uniforms, in case of negative effects outweighing positive ones. In this regard, one of the most important questions is the question concerning the impact of school uniforms on the academic success of students since the ultimate goal of school education is to provide students with education in terms of the existing curriculum, develop their basic skills and abilities and make them come prepared to the further life.

  1. Thesis

In this regard, many researchers (Murphy, 2009) point out that they have failed to reveal any negative as well as positive effects on students’ academic performance but the use of school uniforms refers rather to the field of interpersonal and social relations of students than to the field of their learning and academic success. Therefore, it is possible to suggest that the use of school uniforms does not have a significant effect on the academic success of students in the areas of attendance, behavior and academic success.

  1. Background information and how uniforms came about and how public schools differ.
  2. Catholic schools widely use uniforms

School uniform traditionally comprises an integral part of the traditional education. For instance, 65% of uniforms are worn in catholic school, where uniforms are compulsory. However, non-religious schools also tend to use uniforms for their students. in this regard, private schools are particularly inclined to using school uniforms which serve to distinguish students of the particular private school from  others. Catholic schools contributed consistently to the rise of the tradition of wearing school uniforms. In such a way, catholic schools contributed to the rise of the popularity and tradition of wearing uniforms in schools

According to research, uniforms were not implemented for religious reasons in many Catholic schools but a way to create a more academically conducive environment. In fact, uniforms contribute to the unity of students and increase the feeling of belongingness to one group. As a result, catholic schools use uniforms to make students united and more academically conductive. In such a way, students are supposed to maintain high standards of education and respect traditions of catholic schools.

  1. B. Positive beliefs of uniforms overall

In fact, wearing school uniforms primarily serves to distinguish members/nonmembers. Such distinction is very important in the school environment since the inclusion of students in the school environment is one of the essential conditions of their successful learning. They can integrate faster, if they wear the same uniform as other students. In such a way, other students do not view newcomers as outsider but, instead, they view them as just students like any other in their school. Hence, the risk of internal conflicts and the conflicts between insiders and outsiders within the school decreases due to the uniform.

In addition, uniforms help to differentiate strangers from students in school buildings. In such a way, students, educators and school security can easily identify strangers entering the school. The latter is very important today, when schools have become targets for shootings and mass killings. At the same time, students can differentiate their peers from other children in the school environment.

High levels of students preparedness is another benefit of wearing school uniforms. They come prepared to the school environment and they feel being a part of the school environment due to their uniforms. On the other hand, students come prepared to behave according to rules and standards of the particular school, while the uniform reminds them of their responsibility.

Furthermore, school uniforms signals serious environment that means that students become aware of the fact that, if they wear the uniform, they take certain duties and responsibilities, which they have to observe during their education in the particular school. In such a way, students’ awareness and responsibility increases that may contribute to their positive behavior at school and to their better learning.

In this regard, researchers (Lyons-Ruth & Jacobvitz, 1999) point out that school uniform increases student learning and positive attitudes toward school through enhanced learning environments. They feel the unity of all students and can succeed in their efforts to learn better due to the support of their peers. School uniforms help students to develop positive interpersonal relations with other students because it brings the sense of belongingness and unity of all students, regardless of possible cultural differences between students. In this regard, it is worth mentioning the fact that traditionally, the cultural background of students affects consistently their performance in education. At the same time, minority students are often in a disadvantageous position compared to the white majority. In terms of the current study, African American students were selected and involved in the study to reveal cultural differences and the impact of the cultural background on education opportunities and performance of students. The study revealed the fact that African American students are vulnerable to the impact of their cultural background but, along with cultural background, they face a considerable impact of socioeconomic factors. On the one hand, cultural background of students provoked biased attitude to students from the part of educators, who represented the middle-class mainly. On the other hand, African American students had limited access to education, especially higher education. In this regard, cultural factors were important because obtaining higher education was not the priority in the African American community. However, they also suffered from the lack of financial resources to carry on education after finishing school. As a result, minority students involved in the current study face a number of challenges in terms of obtaining their education and their cultural background is one of the major factors that affect their education opportunities and performance but cultural background of students is closely intertwined with their social status in the US society and their socioeconomic position, which also affect their education consistently.

In addition, school uniforms bring heightened school pride and increased student achievement. Students attribute their own success as well as the success of their peers to the schools environment and traditions. In such a way, students learn to develop positive models of behavior and feel their responsibility. More important, they learn to act responsible in the course of their education.

Hinders gang activity and etc.

In actuality, researchers (Solomon & George, 1999) point out that wearing school uniform can contribute to decreasing gang activity and fights. School uniform brings fewer differences between students. As a result, they learn to behave in the socially acceptable way and do not provoke conflicts with each other because their difference is not so distinct. On the contrary, uniforms make them closer to each other.

In addition, wearing school uniform contributes to the conformity to organizational goals. Students feel their belongingness to school and try to match school norms and standards. In such a way, they become a part of the school environment and learn to prevent conflicts in the school environment between peers.

Less status comparison

Another positive effect of wearing school uniforms is less status comparison. The difference in clothing can reveal the difference in the social status of students. As clothing manifests the social background of an individual, the introduction of school uniforms eliminates that difference.

Uniform advocates contend that uniform affects students’ safety by lowering student victimization. Students and school security can easily identify an outsider that may cause harm to students. Hence, the school security can prevent students’ abuse.

Uniform contributes to the increased self esteem, increased spirit and reinforced feelings of oneness among students. Students feel proud of being a part of the community of their own. Hence, they increase their self esteem and grow aware of their significance among other students.

  1. C. Negative beliefs of uniforms overall
  2. Bandage for problems

However, along with a number of benefits, wearing school uniform can raise problems and cause negative effects for students’ academic performance. At this point, it is possible to refer to the case on academic rhetoric “Long Beach Unified School District” first urban school districts to adopt mandatory school uniform in U.S. In fact, this case reveals the full extent to which uniforms can cause problems for students and can make them subjects to attacks from the part of their peers.

In fact, researchers (Wolf, 2002) insist that uniforms cannot change the education system or the quality of education. What does matter is the real change that made a difference, according to research on case, not just uniforms, part of debate (Malinosky-Rummell & Hansen, 1993). In such a way, school uniforms are not enough to make students more successful in their learning. Instead, consistent, structural and qualitative changes are needed to improve the academic performance of students and the quality of education.

  1. Spiritual affects on students

In fact, spiritual effects of uniforms on students may also be quite negative. To put it more precisely, uniform violates a student’s individual rights. Students turn out to be limited in their right to choose freely whatever clothes they want to wear at school. Instead, the uniform is imposed on them and they have no other option. Hence, the uniform becomes the barrier on the way of students to education. For instance, if the uniform contradicts to religious beliefs of a student, he/she has no other option but to choose a different school where there is no uniform requirement or where uniform matches cultural or religious norms of the particular student.

Furthermore, today, school uniforms are being forced on urban schools and being forced on poor and predominately minority student population.

  1. Doesn’t help preparedness/ attendance

In actuality, researchers (Schmidt & Vandewater, 2008) point out that school uniforms does not help preparedness and attendance of students. Strongest opponent of uniform policies charge that no empirical evidence exist to support the numerous and varied claims of uniform proponents. School uniforms cannot change the decision of the student to go to school or not.

III. Effects on behavior in school

  1. A. Achievement
    1. Supporters opinions

In fact, some researchers (Wolf, 2002) believe that school uniform can have a positive impact on students behavior. For instance, 10th graders who wore uniforms had significantly higher achievement that did students not wearing uniforms. However, results may change when results are broken down in sectors. Hence, such positive effect is important but still questionable.

  1. Critic opinions

At this point, opponents of school uniforms argue that catholic school students who wore uniforms were absent more often and on average scored 3 points less on an achievement test. Therefore, school uniform is of little help, if there are gaps in the quality of education. If students fail to learn successfully, they are likely to fail, even if they are wearing school uniforms.

  1. B. Attitudes
  2. Not significant data to prove discipline

Attitudes to school uniform vary consistently. Some researchers (Wilson, 2008) point out that no direct correlation between students doing their homework more consistently because of uniforms. At home, their uniform plays no part in their academic performance. Hence, if they fail to do their homework, they will fail at school too, even if they are wearing school uniforms.

  1. Do urban area data results differ?

In addition, the academic performance of students differs depending on their school background and location. For instance, studies reveal that the inner city areas are characterized by the poorer performance of students compared to areas inhabited by representatives of the middle and upper-class mainly. These areas are mainly inhabited by African American and Hispanic populations, which are less privileged socio economic status.

Variations between rich and poor and students are evident and clear even if they are wearing school uniforms. The difference becomes obvious through the communication style, values, beliefs and views of students as well as their behavior.

  1. Effects on attendance: Data is sparse and not significant on this topic either.
  2. A. Critics – discuss studies on attendance

Catholic school students who wore uniforms were absent more often and on average scored 3 points less on an achievement test. Hence, there is no considerable positive effect of school uniforms on attendance.

In fact, uniforms do not solves transportation issues for many students in difficult to reach areas. Hence, they have to get to their schools, regardless of whether they wear the uniform or not.

  1. B. Supporters

Effects on attendance are unclear since the data is sparse and not significant on this topic either. Therefore, further researches in this field are required to prove the positive impact of uniforms on attendance.

However, uniforms improve elementary teacher retention. Therefore, there are implications for the positive impact of uniforms but further studies are needed in this field.

  1. Effects on achievement:
  2. A. Does it improve grades?

The data shows a small trend in secondary school results. Some studies (Wilson, 2008) have shown that in controlled groups there were a shift in the academic success of students in certain subjects. Students that did well in school before uniforms did well after uniforms were implemented.

B How effective is data? Data is sparse

At the moment, this field continues to lack reliable and up to date information. Further researches may help to clergy the impact of school uniforms on students’ achievements. In addition, studies should use the comparison of school students’ performance to other institutions and methods, where there is no uniform requirement, for instance.

C Outside of class- extracurricular: do uniforms help? Inspire?

Today, there are no conclusive evidences proves that students who wear uniforms are more involved or talented in extracurricular activities. Moreover, many Urban schools that need major assistance lack funding for encouraging the increase of after school activity- nothing to do with uniforms

  1. Concluding paragraph: according to research this is not a “zero sum game”

Thus, at the moment, there is no clear evidence that school uniforms have positive or negative impact on students achievements and attendance. Instead, existing studies show that there may be both positive and negative effects but it is unclear the extent to which those effects are influenced by school uniforms but not other factors, such as students’ academic performance, individual skills and abilities, or their background.



Lyons-Ruth, K. & Jacobvitz, D. (1999). “Attachment disorganization: unresolved loss, relational violence and lapses in behavioral and attentional strategies.” In J. Cassidy & P. Shaver (Eds.) Handbook of Attachment. (pp. 520-554). NY: Guilford Press.

Malinosky-Rummell, R. & Hansen, D.J. (1993). “Long term consequences of childhood physical abuse,” Psychological Bulletin, 114, 68-69.

Murphy, S.C. (Spring 2009). “Half-Real: Video Games Between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds.” Cinema Journal, 48(3), pp. 142-144.

Schmidt, M.E. & E.A. Vandewater. (Spring 2008). “Media and Attention, Cognition, and School Achievement.” The Future of Children, 18 1, pp. 63-85.

Solomon, J. & George, C. (Eds.) (1999). Attachment Disorganization. NY: Guilford Press.

Wilson, B.J. (Spring 2008). “Media and Children’s Aggression, Fear, and Altruism.” The Future of Children, 18 1, pp. 87-118.

Wolf, M. (2002). “Addiction: Making the Connection Between Behavioral Changes and Neuronal Plasticity.” in Specific Pathways Molecular Interventions, 2:146-157.

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[Accessed: March 21, 2023]

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