Do School Uniforms Really Improve Student Academic Performance?

Teen Students Uniforms
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Why should students wear uniforms? And why not? The school uniforms debate continues. Unfortunately, the benefits of school uniforms and reasons why students should not wear uniforms are hopelessly trapped in a complicated draw, and it looks to be the case for the foreseeable future, with neither side gaining a definitive advantage over the other. Do school uniforms improve student academic performance? Not necessarily. Do school uniforms infringe on students’ rights? Maybe.  Granted, student academic performance is not reliant on uniforms, but the pro-uniform argument also holds water.

By expounding on the advantages and disadvantages of school uniforms, this article takes a more incisive look at the issue:

Student safety

It’s true that student achievement does not depend on school uniforms. But student safety is, at least, partially dependent on it. It does not require expert researchers, like those of CustomEssayMeister, to conclude that serious incidences involving students are significantly less in schools that have uniforms. Uniforms, along with strict identification measures, ensure that strangers on campus can easily be spotted and apprehended. Naturally, unpleasant incidences are averted.

Verdict: Advantage

Additional cost

Should schools have uniforms? In private school uniforms, that’s the norm, especially parochial ones, and parents understand and are capable of shouldering the cost. What about in public schools where not all students can pay? Even if a drastic measure is implemented to make uniforms as cheap as possible, it will still be a burden to financially-strapped families.

Verdict: Disadvantage

Young Students Uniforms
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Inclusivity

Uniforms arguably foster a sense of inclusivity and promote among students healthy school pride and community spirit, especially when representing their school colors. Due to “uniformity” and a “sense” of equality at least in clothing, uniforms can curb instances of victimizations based on dress sense or absence thereof. In the same manner, if provided free of charge in public schools, prejudices appertaining to perceived socioeconomic differences might not be realistically eradicated, but they at least can be curtailed. Undeniably, less bullying and victimizations on school grounds easily translate to increased self-esteem. Increased self-esteem in students, combined with discipline stemming from uniforms, in turn, results in more harmonious school life.

Verdict: Quite an advantage

The truth is obvious

The “inclusivity” is judged as only quite an advantage because it gets debunked by the truth. In schools wherein students belong to more or less the same socioeconomic bracket, the notion could be true.  But in public schools where students are from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, uniforms are ineffective. Wearing of uniforms cannot conceal students who come from poorer households. No student can deny that he only has one blazer or pair of pants and has to wear them all the time. In this respect, uniforms are not conducive.

Verdict: Disadvantage

Students Uniform Class
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Borders on authoritarian

It is plausible for parents to view uniforms as a way for schools to restrict the students’ freedom of expression and individuality. Indeed, the school uniforms debate is such a politically contentious one. While there are obvious benefits to students, the likelihood of an authoritarian implementation of uniforms remains, which poses a legitimate threat to the overall efficacy of the teaching and learning process. In what manner? One might ask. Firstly, it must be noted that educators view uniforms differently than students do. Students opposed to school uniforms are likely to strategize to deviate from the school uniform policy. Thus, mild alterations or changes in the way uniforms are worn (e.g., shorter ties in males, skirt length in females) could negatively influence the approach of teachers. As a result, they might place unnecessary emphasis on the proper wearing of uniform rather than on actual teaching and learning.  

Verdict: Disadvantage

The absence of hard evidence

Do school uniforms improve students’ grades? While there is evidence that there is indeed a positive impact of school uniforms on student behavior, proving a direct correlation between student uniforms and excellent student academic performance is a daunting task, simply because there is no solid supporting evidence. A case in point, a research conducted in the United Kingdom in 2018 assessed that even though non-uniform schools comprised only 20% of the 100 top-performing schools across the country, an alarming 40% of “ties-and-khaki-pants-and-blazers” schools disappointingly failed to reach the government’s requirement of 30% of students exhibiting exemplary performance in languages and sciences, demonstrating a huge gap in learning among their students. On the other hand, while the non-uniform schools did not massively outdo their uniformed counterparts, they were much more consistent and collectively better – nobody lagged miserably.

Verdict: Disadvantage

Do school uniforms improve student academic performance? No. Do they affect student behavior as it were? Partly, in some cases. For such an uncomplicated question, there is no clear answer. This stalemate shall likely remain until a concrete causal relationship between school uniforms and sustained academic excellence is duly established. Uniforms have advantages and disadvantages, but the decision to implement it should depend on schools alone, and not be treated as a must. The grave mistake that educators all over the world still commit to this day is to attribute academic excellence and good behavior of students to uniforms, failing to realize that the trademark of a good academic institution is holistic learning, both in academics, ethics, and morals. Uniforms, ideally, should only be for aesthetic purposes.