Dressed for Success? The Effect of School Uniforms on Student Achievement and Behavior
43 Pages Posted: 2 Sep 2009 Last revised: 22 Feb 2010
Date Written: February 19, 2010
Concerns about safety in urban schools have led many school districts to require uniforms for their students. However, we know very little about what impact school uniforms have had on the school environment. In this paper we use a unique dataset to assess how uniform adoption affects student behavior and achievement in a large urban school district in the southwest. Since each school in the district could decide independently about whether or not to adopt uniforms, we are able to use variation across schools and over time to identify the effects of uniforms. Using models that include student and school fixed-effects along with school-specific linear time trends we find that uniforms generate improvements in attendance, behavior and test scores for students in secondary grades, particularly girls. There is little impact in primary grades. Uniforms also reduce the likelihood that girls leave the district for alternative education options, potentially providing a tool for retaining students in the face of increased school choice options.
Keywords: uniforms, eduction, achievement, student behavior
JEL Classification: I21
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation