Is school uniform and children’s behavior interconnected?
Proponents of school uniforms have argued that, among other things, they promote better attendance and a stronger sense of community, which results in less bullying and fighting. Despite the belief of many parents and teachers, school uniforms don't seem to have any effect on young students' behavior or attendance.
In a national study conducted at the Ohio State University, it is found that the interconnection between a student’s behavior and school uniform does not hold up. To test that, the researchers used data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, which followed a nationally representative sample of 6,320 students from kindergarten through the end of fifth grade. Every academic year, teachers rated each student on three dimensions: internalizing behavior problems (such as anxiety and social withdrawal), externalizing behavior problems (such as aggression or destruction of property), and social skills.
Teachers also reported how often each student was absent. Overall, school uniforms had no effect on any of the three dimensions of behavior in any grade, even after taking into account a wide range of other factors that could potentially affect students' behavior.
The results of this study should caution parents, teachers, and administrators from assuming that school uniforms have positive effects that they may not have and that school uniforms may not be the most effective way to improve student behavior and engagement.