A study done by David Brunsma from the University of Missouri and Kerry A. Rockquemore from Notre Dame measured the effects of uniforms on attendance, behavior, substance abuse, and academic achievement and concluded that uniforms did not improve any of these. In their report published in the The Journal of Education Research in September/October 1998, the authors contend that uniforms may even have the opposite effect on academic achievement. They state, “Here, contrary to the expected, student uniform use actually decreases, on average, the standardized test score of these tenth graders who wear them due to mandatory school policy.” Although these assertions were contested by Ann Bodine in the November/December 2003 issue of The Journal of Educational Research, where she argued that the research methods were flawed, their results are often cited by school uniform opponents, and no other formal studies support claims for either side of the debate.
Perhaps more importantly, Brunsma and Rockquemore consider other reasons schools may see a correlation between uniforms and improved test results and other benefits. They state, “What is omitted from the discourse on school uniforms is the possibility that, instead of directly impacting specific outcomes, uniforms work as a catalyst for change and provide a highly visible window of opportunity. It is this window which allows additional programs to be implemented… Requiring students to wear uniforms is a change which not only effects students, but school faculty and parents. Instituting a mandatory uniform policy is a change which is immediate, highly visible, and shifts the environmental landscape of any particular school.” Whether or not school uniforms directly improve attendance, behavior, and grades is still a matter of debate.