University Child Development School

5062 9th Avenue Northeast, Seattle, WA 98105
(206) 547-8237

(out of 10)

Private Grades PK-5 318 students 6 students/teacher (WA avg is 17)

Test Scores by grade

About this school

University Child Development School is a private elementary school in Seattle. The principal of University Child Development School is Paula Smith. 318 students attend University Child Development School and identify mostly as White, non-Hispanic; Asian; and Asian/Pacific Islander. The student to teacher ratio at University Child Development School is 6:1. Seattle Area German American School is one of the nearest elementary schools.

Extracurricular activities


  • Ceramics sculpture
  • Chorus
  • Computer arts
  • Dance
  • Drawing painting
  • Orchestra
  • Photography
  • Theater drama
  • Video film production

Languages Taught

  • Mandarin
  • Spanish


  • Basketball
  • Bicycling
  • Cross country
  • Gymnastics
  • P.E. classes
  • Soccer
  • Track
  • Ultimate Frisbee
  • Yoga

Student Ethnicities

Ethnicity School District
White, non-Hispanic 68% %
Asian 6% %
Asian/Pacific Islander 5% %
Multiracial 25% %
Black, non-Hispanic 0.8% %
Hispanic 0.8% %
Native American or Native Alaskan 0% %
Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander 0% %

Community ratings & reviews

  • (5 months ago)

    I wish we would have known . How great UCDS was when we were there. We left due to logistical reasons and have regretted our decision ever since. Our new school (won t mention name) does NOT meet the high expectations that UCDS had. When we were there it was our first school experience so I expected other schools couldn t be so different. I m sad to say we were wrong. UCDS has quality teachers forward thinking education and a fun community of parents. Don t be fooled by other schools UCDS walks the walk! I wish we would have known we would have never left.

  • (5 months ago)

    Not a school for the highly capable student. No acceleration in studies and poor hands-on teaching of the fundamentals. Any issues get referred to outside specialists. Not worth the money in my opinion.

  • (6 months ago)

    I believe UCDS has a highly constructed education system and students are having great fun in school whether it is in the classrooms or after school activities. All of our child s teachers have been very enthusiastic and generous they teach students with their whole heart. And above all the UCDS spirit presents in every corner of the school parents students and teachers are loving and willing to help each other. We have already had a memorable four-year journey at UCDS and have made lots of life-lasting friends in many different aspects of life.

  • (6 months ago)

    The review from Feb. 6 is simply not true. Don't believe the garbage you read on these review sites.

  • (6 months ago)

    UCDS has fantastic marketing but the actual content of their curriculum is pretty abysmal. Both my kids have a tutor despite the "individualized curriculum" at the school. I would guess that at least 70% of the kids attending UCDS are instructed by the administration to seek some type of outside tutoring/counseling for their children. Moreover they are extremely harsh in their punishments; they locked a preschool child outside to "exterminate" his temper tantrums. Maybe it worked but it seemed really extreme to me. Ask current parents about discipline and ask about attrition; if your child reaches second grade and they don't like the family or the kid they will manage you out. They definitely do not seem to live the values they espouse.

  • (6 months ago)

    I feel so fortunate to have my kids at this amazing school. I chose the school because it was one that I wish that I had attended! They have been there over 2 1/2 years and are thriving. From our very first parent interview UCDS has given me great techniques on how to help my children succeed academically and insightful ideas to help their social and emotional progression. It is very clear to me that they are deeply invested in their development as engaged skillful and reflective thinkers. I have heard some gossip (perhaps by a disgruntled parent) that the school does not prepare children for middle school and for me the exact opposite is true. Almost all UCDS kids get their first or second choice of schools and many middle school teachers find that they are incredibly thoughtful dedicated and strong students. I also am a huge fan of the inclusive parent community. I have met many dynamic individuals. I am unequivocally confident that we chose the right school for our kids and for our family and thank my lucky stars that we were given the opportunity to attend.

  • (9 months ago)

    As the parent of one current student and another that is applying to UCDS I wish I could say that I disagree with the previous reviewer's comments about the leadership and culture at this school. On the positive side my one child at UCDS likes being there and I think she is getting a pretty good education. All the chatter about kids needing tutors in order to catch up with peers before going to middle school makes me nervous but so far we haven't needed one. I am conflicted about sending my younger child to UCDS but probably will simply for reasons of convenience since my older child is already there. If not for anonymity I would not be commenting here because administrators can be hard on parents that voice questions or criticism. There is much worry among parents that if we speak up with anything but praise for the school our younger kids won't be admitted or our kids already at the school won't be supported when they apply for middle school. I don't know if it is true but I heard this warning from several parents when I was considering speaking up about an issue that bothered me and ultimately I just chose to stay quiet. Still at least the teachers are good.

  • (9 months ago)

    UCDS is a fine school as far as its physical space (which is nice) and teachers (who are young but committed and dynamic) are concerned. The biggest weakness is its leadership. Top administrators have held positions for so long that they are complacent and out of touch (a downside to the lack of turnover cited by others). Their leadership style is reflexive rigid and obstinate rather than thoughtful adaptive and enlightened. Having spoken candidly with many parents and some teachers it seems that most show the current leadership unquestioning deference more out of fear than respect. Unfortunately this has damaged the trajectory of the school's reputation and the culture and morale of its community. Hopefully the school will find a way to turn this around.

  • (9 months ago)

    As a parent of two UCDS alums who still has one child currently enrolled at this school I feel well versed about their curriculum and leadership. All three of my children have had incredible learning experiences at this school. In short they are all well educated students who LOVE learning new things and appreciate the differences in people. The teachers are energetic and creative always generating unique projects that inspire the children while challenging them at every turn. There is NO turnover at this school anywhere-that is true with the leadership the teachers and the families!! It is very hard to get into this program-especially after kindergarten-but worth trying. If there are any unhappy posts on this site it s because the school is very clear about what they do and don t do. If a family tries to change the philosophy of the school they will help them find a different environment that better suits what they want. Being a current parent in several schools the school s clarity around directional commitment is refreshing.

  • (9 months ago)

    I might be a bit biased but since I have worked here I have had a great experience. All of the teachers and other support staff are friendly and great with children. Teachers truly seem to care about the overall well-being of kids here and the amount of activities and projects that take place is phenomenal. I wish all kids had the resources this school has.

  • (10 months ago)

    My children attended UCDS last year. In the interest of full transparency for prospective parents (because the school is unlikely to make this information available to you) UCDS was investigated in 2013-14 by federal and state agencies. Search "UCDS USDOJ DEL" on Google. As you go through the application and tour process every independent school in Seattle will tout its diverse and progressive community and its strongly held values of inclusiveness and "meeting kids where they are." Some schools do a great job of it but my opinion is that at UCDS this rhetoric does not match their policies or practices. I believe that the current administrative leaders at UCDS hold the school back from being the truly outstanding learning community that it could be and that they reflect poorly on the children and families of UCDS as representatives to the Seattle community and to the nation. Knowing this if I were again in the position of deciding where my children would receive their elementary schooling I would be very reluctant to choose UCDS over the many other superb options in the greater-Seattle area until they straighten out their leadership problems. Good luck!

  • (1 year ago)

    Great for status and bragging rights at your next wine tasting. School is infatuated with itself. The preschool and kindergarten is great but as the kids get older and differences in abilities become greater they do not individualize learning despite what they say. By the way if you are sending your kids there because the Gates sent their kids there be aware that they pulled their youngest out after first grade.

  • (1 year ago)

    Last night as we drove home from school my 10-year old son asked me if we could pull up the Gettysburg Address when we got home. "It's really cool " he explained "We read all about it this morning. Total game changer for our country." He and his 12-year old sister (a UCDS alumna) spent dinner talking about the Civil War and the country's continued work on equity. My husband and I listened as they asked each other clarifying questions and challenged one another's assumptions. Their curiosity and passion for both learning and understanding was on full display. This morning they both left for school armed with questions to take to their American history and classroom teachers respectively. This is what a UCDS education has done for our family. It has inspired engagement curiosity ownership and active learning in both of our children. It has given them deep foundations and identity as learners community members and friends. It has shown them that learning happens everywhere and expects their participation. In our ten years as a family at the school we have had countless interactions like the one above. We are thrilled.

  • (1 year ago)

    As a former teacher I never thought I would be totally happy with a school yet everyday I am blown away with the experience my children are having. The teachers are thoughtful creative and innovative in their presentation of the curriculum. Everything is done in such a fun way that my children do not even realize they are learning. Additionally I truly feel that the teachers know my kids and that they are creating individualized instruction that is the perfect match for my kids--not too hard not too easy--just the right amount so that they have to work but are successful. Most importantly though my kids love school. They are on their way to becoming life long learners. We feel honored to be part of this community.

  • (1 year ago)

    UCDS is a perfect fit for our son. All schools are not right for every child and in our case we found the perfect environment for him. We chose UCDS because the teachers tune into each child and give them stretch goals each and every day. The teachers practice a collaborative methodology where they work together to develop curriculum and share ideas. Never once have we been disappointed at the parent teacher conferences in fact have been pleasantly surprised to hear of our son's progress with concepts far beyond what we would have ever imagined (basic algebra and reading in PreK). Our son's teacher genuinely adores him and takes the opportunity to share a short story with us about something he accomplished weekly if not daily. You will never hear the word 'bully' in the school - instead the kids learn to process conflicts in a way that builds their relationships with expert guidance from their teachers. We have found the parent community to be warm welcoming and inclusive. We are grateful that our son is receiving an excellent education is learning to be an independent leader with self confidence and is a caring friend to his classmates.

  • (1 year ago)

    UCDS provided our children with an exceptional education and they are thriving both academically and socially. Our two children attended UCDS from the age of three until they graduated as 5th graders. UCDS created an environment where they were excited to go to school each day. Now in middle school and high school we(and they) can see how prepared they are with solid academic skills and confident independence. They excel in many areas but more importantly when something is challenging they know how to ask questions and persevere. UCDS helped our children develop these skills from an early age and continued to build upon them throughout their 8 years. We couldn't be more thankful for the solid foundation UCDS provided for both our children.

  • (1 year ago)

    Kids are challenged while in a fun hands on environment. The curriculum helps the children develop analytical skills in both academics and personal areas of development. I have never seen a staff so committed they all value and know every child in the community. This school helps the children learn and be their best resulting in confident creative analytical kids.

  • (1 year ago)

    Our family loves UCDS! We have been a part of the community for over 5 years. Our daughter tells us daily that she loves school and her teachers. This year the technology lab was moved into a new space called The EDGe (The Engineering and Design Garage). It s pretty cool how elementary kids are learning how to write code and create a 3D objects on a MakerBot printer!! Many educators in the Seattle area come to the school to learn how to be better teachers. I could go on and on about our experience as it s all been pretty positive. I have heard from some parents that it s difficult to meet other parents and families and to that I say put yourself out there and you will meet others.

  • (1 year ago)

    We loved UCDS. Our son is now a 7th grader at an independent MS/HS and is doing very well. One of the greatest gifts from being at UCDS from preK-Fifth grade is how well he knows himself. He is doing well in school and reflects that there are a few things he notices other kids struggling with that he finds easy due to his experiences at UCDS. One example is in documenting his work and process at math. He explains that it comes naturally to him he is used to it because that was how he did math at UCDS never just writing the answer. He's certainly not perfect... Writing has always been his least favorite thing and he comtinues to have to work on this. But part of knowing himeself well is that he has confidence in what he does well and ackowledges what is hard for him. He is open to feedback and willing to work hard. Teachers are very committed to the kids and work hard to create challenging curriculum. There are always a small group of parents who want to have a say in the planning but rather than trying to please this small group (who rarely agree with each other!) the teachers stay true to the values they clearly explain in their mission.

  • (1 year ago)

    We were disappointed to learn in our first conference after moving on from UCDS that our child has education gaps in critical areas. We were blindsided and never alerted to any deficiencies at UCDS. We're now told our child's performance in these areas isn't even passable. As a family we never considered school to be all about academics and bought into the marketing that said children would be more well-rounded and collaborative coming out of UCDS. We dismissed the critiques about the children not learning many facts leaving without basic skills teacher quality variability and inexperience and the fact that many children do afterschool enrichment whether advanced or remedial. We dismissed as thin-skinned all complaints about social and class hierarchy and the image-conscious staff. In retrospect we now see this as a case of the Emperor's New Clothes. We were blinded by our devotion to the school's reputation and sang its praises despite not seeing the goods ourselves. We found too late that many of the critiques and others' experiences we had dismissed were grounded in reality. We're left scrambling to catch up and remediate several areas of concern. Disillusioned!

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Overall score

(based on 47 ratings & reviews)

  • Teacher quality
  • Principal leadership
  • Parent involvement


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