Early Education     K-12    

Are School Uniforms Good for Kids?

A study recently released found school uniform policies helped to improve school safety and student achievement, including grades and test scores, in three diverse public school districts.

In light of the increased emphasis on student achievement since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, "Implementing a School Uniform Policy: A Case Study of Three Districts" provides additional evidence that school uniform policies can be beneficial to student learning.

Five key and consistent findings emerged in "Implementing a School Uniform Policy", which focused on the Denver Public Schools in Denver, Colorado; the Aldine Independent School District outside of Houston, Texas; and District of Baltimore City Public Schools:

1) Regular use of uniforms can help to improve school safety;

2) Regular use of uniforms can help to improve students' classroom behavior;

3) The affordability of school uniforms versus everyday clothing contributes to wide acceptance of the adoption of such a policy;

4) Uniforms can help to reduce student competition and concerns about "fitting in";

5) Uniforms may contribute to improved student outcomes, including grades and test scores.

"Uniforms can play an important role in improving school culture," said Dr. Scott Joftus, author of the study. "The common message we found in our research is that uniforms can help make schools safer, create positive learning environments; and improve student outcomes, including attendance, grades, and test scores."

The study also identified consistent strategies for successful implementation of school uniform policy:

* Focusing on parental involvement;

* Adopting policies at the school rather than district level;

* Keeping student rights front and center;

* Providing financial assistance for needy students;

* Giving positive reinforcement to students, using a carrot rather than stick approach;

* Keeping uniforms simple and offering students some choice in style.

"This study offers additional evidence that school uniforms can be a very effective element of school reform policies. All students can achieve when given adequate structure, encouragement and resources," said Dr. Carl Cohn, the former superintendent of the Long Beach (CA) Unified School District, which was the first school district to require uniforms in grades K-8. "School uniform policies bring a sense of order and discipline to the classroom environment and help students focus on why they're there: to learn."

The study is available online at www.frenchtoast.com