Teaching for mass testing generally fails to teach the higher levels of mind formation and thinking. Education in America is seriously regressing unless schools teach for:
1. the ability to give multiple solutions to problems (like real life)
2. the ability to notice things that need to be noticed (needed to make the world a better place)
3. the ability to make choices where the rules have not yet been established and/or where rules are outdated and/or not fair (needed for justice in the world)
4. deal intelligently with situations for which there are no clear elements and principles (like much of life)
5. the ability to think divergently and consider opposite answers and unique answers (like those who solve the tough problems)
6. the ability to tolerate and appreciate diversity and the significant contributions realized when divergent points of view are brought to a problem (needed to keep the world from destroying itself)
7. the ability to add beauty and see ugliness (to make life worth living)
and many other similar kinds of thinking that the tests are not now testing.
Good art teaching can teach all of the above quite effectively.
I wish we had good tests for these kind of things, but until we do, teaching for the tests only teaches some fairly standardized job skills, but not the kind of thinking and life skills that are needed to live in and sustain a free society that needs a responsible citizenry.
Preparation for skillfully working in slavery and totalitarian societies is no longer satisfactory. According to economist, Richard Florida, at least 30 percent of todays work force is employed in jobs that require high levels of creativity. People are not just using prior knowledge and skills, but they have to respond to unanticipated scenarios. All people use creativity in their personal lives.
This is important for all levels of students. Many of the lower level students are dropping out of high school because of all the teaching for tests. In fact, schools have incentives to look the other way. The schools do better on the tests when these students drop out.
Art education is better than teaching for limiting tests. Art teachers may need to make some gestures to keep jobs in the political situations they live in, but creative teachers can also do much more.