Despite the surge of suburban parents who chose to have their children opt out of the state test in protest of how this year’s scores will be used to rate teachers, a report shows more than 98 percent of students in New York State’s five largest cities took the state tests this spring.

A report released by High Achievement for New York found Buffalo had more than 94 percent of students opt in, Rochester and Syracuse had more than 91 percent of students participate and more than 95 percent participated in Yonkers. New York City had the highest level of participation with more than 99 percent of students taking the controversial state tests.

“Parents in high needs districts across the state are demonstrating their commitment to higher standards and higher achievement for their children by opting in to the state tests,” Arva Rice, president and CEO of the New York Urban League, said in a statement. “By supporting the assessments, parents are supporting an education system that will ensure all students, no matter where they grow up, leave school ready for life after graduation.” 

The five major cities in New York make up roughly 40 percent of the state’s 1.2 million students in grades 3-8, but only accounted for 3.3 percent of the statewide opt-outs according to the HANY analysis. 

New York State United Teachers has been encouraging parents to opt their children out of the exams after Gov. Andrew Cuomo originally proposed tying 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation to student test scores and reducing the weight of classroom observations. The final budget bill did not include percentages and left the decision to the state Department of Education.

United to Counter the Core, an education group that seeks to eliminate the Common Core standards, released a report last month that found more than 137,000 children sat out of the first day of testing in English language arts. That report drew data from 46 percent of about 700 school districts. The opt-out movement has gained more traction in suburban, wealthier districts.

“The high levels of participation in the state assessments in Buffalo and our other cities show that the standards are valued by the places that need them most,” Brenda McDuffie, Buffalo Urban League president and CEO, said in a statement. “For too long, where you were born determined the kind of public education children received, and parents recognize that has to stop.”

The full report is found below:

HANY Big5 Report