The Importance Of Creativity In Public Schools

In the US (and in many other places as well) the vast majority of teachers teach in public schools. While public education is an awesome offering in many ways, it also comes with a number of not-so-awesome things that many teachers bemoan on a regular basis. I’d say that the number one thing we hear about that would fall into this category are standardized tests. With teachers forced to spend more time on the subjects that are evaluated with standardized tests, that leaves much less time for teaching other subjects (like art and music) which are now often considered ‘extras’ or ‘luxuries’.

The handy infographic below takes a look at how public schools’ focus on teaching to the test may be squelching students’ creativity. It also looks at how arts education may help students in many other areas. Keep reading to learn more.

The Importance of Arts Education & Creativity In Public Schools

  • Nationwide budget cuts have cut funding for many arts education programs
  • Federal funding for class curricula has made a shift towards the common core subjects
  • Annual federal funding for science is $5 billion, but only $250 million for the arts
  • The No Child Left Behind Act highlights the arts (including art, music, and foreign language) as core curricula subjects, yet fewer schools are offering these subjects than a decade ago
  • Students who study art are 3 times more likely to be rewarded for good attendance
  • They are 4 times more likely to be awarded for academic achievement
  • They tend to have higher GPAs and standardized test scores
  • They have lower dropout rates
  • They tend to be more involved in community service work
  • Students with 4 years of art or music education score about 100 points higher on the SAT
  • Arts also encourage social development, creativity, higher self worth, and positive attitude



  1. Peter Sansom

    March 25, 2014 at 3:11 am

    This is really interesting stuff and as an artist and art teacher I know much of this to be spot on. Maybe it is the teacher in me, but Hungary and the Netherlands are the wrong way round in the graphic

  2. Jessica

    March 29, 2014 at 11:40 am

    This is such a huge issue now in public schools, but also in the sector of private schools. I’ve taught in both sectors, most recently a private school, and last month I found out that my position for next year has been cut due to budget constraints. I was one of two middle school art teachers, and the school was looking to make budget cuts due to a decrease in boarding student admissions, and of course the fine art department was the first place they looked. It’s sad when administrators know about this research and even promote the arts to prospective students and the community, yet still make the decision to cut these classes from the students’ curriculum.

    One other thing to point out – I think it’s great that the arts have been shown to help in areas such as math and science, not to mention all the other positive things they do for students. However, I think people should also realize that the fine arts are important in and of themselves. A piece of artwork is beautiful and meaningful, whether or not the process of creating it helped the artist in other subject areas. Music can change us and affect us in such profound ways, and it should be appreciated whether or not it helps us do better in math class. This world would be a very dull place without art, music, drama, dance, etc. These things bring joy to our lives, for both the artists/composers/performers and their audiences. So creativity through the fine arts should be appreciated and encouraged for its own sake too.

    Thanks for the great article!