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Secondary School Dress Code Compliance Issues: Analysis from the Students’ Perspective
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School dress code policy issues receive attention in school disciplinary matters, in the media and other popular press sources, and in courtroom litigation. Scientific content for this school health issue is primarily received from student records and adult input. This dissertation veers from the norm and investigates students’ perspectives of school dress code issues through three separate studies. First, a systematic literature review was conducted to assess the availability of peer reviewed publications regarding school dress code policy and student involvement. Findings from the review reveal the lack of inclusion of students in matters concerning school dress code policy development and implementation. Secondly, a cross-sectional study was conducted to analyze student input regarding and application of their school’s dress code. Participants (n=69) rated eight youth models dressed in outfits that were either in compliance, in violation, or were ambiguously dressed according to their school’s dress code policy. The female youth models wore identical outfits, as did the male youth models. Ratings were based on participants’ knowledge of the policy as well as their personal perceptions of each outfit. Results from the study reveal a deficiency in students’ ability to assess violations of the school dress code policy and varied opinions of appropriateness of dress. Lastly, a qualitative evaluation of ninth grade, African American girls’ perspective of the purpose of school dress codes and the impact the policy has on their school experience and personal choices for school attire. Seven participants were interviewed and findings reveal commonalities in their experiences such as being taught what is appropriate for school and professional dress as well as contradictions that exist in enforcement of the school’s policy. Additionally, the girls had a common practice of maintaining their own sense of style and individuality while complying with their school dress code. Other than school discipline records, the vast majority of current literature regarding school dress codes lacks direct student input. Therefore, the studies conducted in this dissertation serve as a foundation for future research and exploration of high school students’ perspectives in policy development.
Solari, Kayce Denae' (2015). Secondary School Dress Code Compliance Issues: Analysis from the Students’ Perspective. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from