My latest reading is http://www.nber.org/papers/w17337.pdf.
Dressed for Success? The Effect of School Uniforms on Student Achievement and Behavior
Elisabetta Gentile, Scott A. Imberman
NBER Working Paper No. 17337
Issued in August 2011
Why am I interested in this working paper? As a child I was forced to endure school uniforms every day at school for 10 long years. Kindergarten and secondary college (Years 11 and 12) did not have a uniform.
I heard the usual reasons for uniform compliance: everyone looks the same, you can tell which school a kid is from, it looks neat, it engenders respect, kids behave better, etc. I was never given hard evidence that kids behaved better in uniform.
I remember the horrible scratchy wool-nylon blend fabric used for our unattractive plaid skirts, the Midford school shirts that never sat correctly on the bust, the horrible shoes, and the rebels who would daringly wear sneakers with their uniforms and claim that their parents couldn’t afford school shoes, though they could afford sneakers that were nearly twice the cost of school shoes.
It was interesting to read what the researchers discovered after examining data from a large urban school district in the south-west United States, which historically has a different approach towards school uniform policies. I recommend that you read the full paper yourself.
[W]e found that uniforms have a positive influence on student attendance in secondary grades. Attendance rates in grades
6 through 12 increase by 0.3 to 0.4 percentage points after a school adopts uniforms. On
the other hand, we found little evidence that uniforms have lasting impacts on achievement,
grade retention, or the likelihood of students switching schools or leaving the district for all
genders and grade levels.
In terms of discipline we also found little evidence of uniform effects.