Studies Show Louisiana School Uniforms Don’t Improve Behavior
If you have, or have had, a student in public schools around Louisiana, you have likely run into some strict school uniform dress codes. The enforcement of these policies are starting to get a lot of attention as well. Recently a school in Bossier Parish removed winter clothing from students when temperatures dropped to near freezing in the area.
Students and parents both have a growing hatred for these school uniform policies, but are they actually working for the schools?
According to a growing pile of research, these uniform policies do not provide any clear benefits when it comes to equity, bullying, fairness, or bullying. Additionally, when you look at our specific region there is no clear benefit to the performance of the schools.
When these polices started to gain steam around Louisiana in the late 90s and early 2000s, schools were actually performing better than they are after 20+ years of these polices being in place. Here are the numbers from the Louisiana Department of Education for schools in our area, and for the whole state, between 2001 and 2022:
|2001 DISTRICT PERFORMANCE SCORE (DPS)
|2022 DISTRICT PERFORMANCE SCORE (DPS)
Most of the school districts in our area have seen their scores drop since uniform polices have started. The statewide score has gone down from 80.8 to 77.1, while Bossier Parish schools have dropped from 94.2 to 86.4. In Caddo Parish, the scores dropped from 81.3 to 71.3, and Webster Parish has gone from 79 to 71.7 between 2001 and 2022.
Its not just our region. Research from the Education Endowment Foundation found "no direct link between uniform and academic performance".
So if you're wondering if the uniform polices have led to better performing schools, it hasn't happened in our area...but the schools continue to push them. So maybe the uniform polices are making kids feel included, or to stop bullying, or to help with behavior. Well, according to studies, they don't address any of those issues.
Research collected by Science X and Phys.org show that while many US educators think that uniform polices reduce gang activity and create a safer environment, there's no evidence that shows any truth to that hypothesis. In fact, a study from Texas Southern University said that school discipline incidents actually increased by roughly 12% after the introduction of uniforms.
If school uniforms don't help students learn, or make schools, safer, they at least help with behavior right? Well, not according to the research. A study looked at over 6,000 students, and according to Arya Ansari Assistant Professor of Human Sciences at Ohio State University:
“We didn’t see much difference in our behavior measures, regardless of whether the schools had a uniform policy or not.”
While discussing the research, Ansair added:
“There hasn’t been much research done on the value of school uniforms in the past 20 years or so, especially given how much their use has increased”
The research Ansair worked on also addressed student attendance, anxiety, and bullying. While the research did suggest that uniforms may positively impact low income students when it comes to attendance, it amounted to one extra day of school per year. The research also showed there was no impact on student anxiety after uniforms were mandated.
Ansair added that fights were not curtailed by the introduction of uniforms in the research. That was also supported by Miami-Dade County Public Schools Office of Education Evaluation and Management, who say fights nearly double within the first year of uniforms being mandated. Tony Volk, PhD, Associate Professor at Brock University has argued against school uniform polices for years. He has often said:
“Overall, there is no evidence in bullying literature that supports a reduction in violence due to school uniforms.”
According to Professor Volk's research, bullying is also unaffected by school uniform policies. He says:
“Bullies are smart. They will just find some other way to show status. Who has the best ipod, who has the most games at home, who went on the biggest vacation. If kids want to pick on someone about how rich or how poor they are, clothes are one obvious symbol but there are a lot of other obvious ways for them to do it.”
The myth of "fairness" with school uniform polices has also been dismantled by multiple studies. Including research from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which found school dress codes are "not equitable". Though some educators will assert that uniform polices foster an "even playing field" among students, there's no research to support that. In fact, uniform polices often cause the opposite effect, harming lower income students. Something that Ansair also found in his research.
So if there are no benefits at all gained for students when it comes to uniform policies, why are schools in the Shreveport and Bossier areas still pushing them? Why are they doubling down on them, and doing "sting operations" in class to remove winter clothing during a winter weather day?
We really can't be doing the school uniform polices strictly for schools to make money by selling uniform merchandise to students right? The fact that most schools in our area don't allow shirts purchased at retail stores to be worn to class. Even if those retail shirts abide by every dress code rule, the fact they were purchased from someone besides a school means a student can't wear them.
Seriously, without any other benefits, and only problems brought by school uniform policies, why is Louisiana still focused on them?