School Details

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 children attend University Child Development School and identify primarily as White, non-Hispanic; Asian; and Asian/Pacific Islander. The ratio of students to teachers 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

  • (4 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.

  • (4 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.

  • (5 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!

  • (7 months 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 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)

    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)

    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)

    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)

    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)

    When we visited UCDS during our kindergarten search we remember the parent groups having a UCDS 5th grader guide. The 5th grader answered questions and shared what they were studying. We were highly impressed at the confidence and ease the 5th grader displayed conversing with all of us grown ups with no teacher to aid them. We wanted our children to develop the same poise and assurance. As our own kids have Moved On from UCDS to middle school we have seen their confidence and self knowledge take them to the next level. Their transition to middle school was close to seamless they were excited for the new adventure and the opportunities that lay beyond. Thank you UCDS.

  • (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!

  • (1 year ago)

    I was SO impressed with UCDS when I toured the school. When my child was accepted I was thrilled. The school is beautiful and the teachers were enthusiastic at first but as the year progressed they seemed to check out. The school is liberal and embraces children for the wonderful beings they are ( or aren't) but in my opinion academically things are vague and and unfocused. My child who is fairly young said there was not enough challenging work. The teachers were awful at communicating and actually sort of distant and unwelcoming by the second half of the year. Big disappointment. Not an awful school but not as amazing as people think.

  • (1 year ago)

    some people say that this school has a lack of social ability and honestly i could understand that but being a former student i have learned so much i loved milk and cookies and grandparents special friends day in the early elementary you get to explore the bamboo garden and ride bikes on the rainbow road. and in kindergarten you have a k-day where you go to the first floor and you learn about how the elementary school works. the first floor also goes camping this is a great social time for the kids. once your in the 4-5s the homework gets intense theres roughly five things to do per night which seems ridiculous for 4th and 5th graders the second floor goes on two overnight trips one in the fall and one in the spring the fifth graders do service learning projects where they get their last chance to give back to the school and then graduation comes and its amazing people are clapping and my aunt actually said this was the best graduation performance ever. nobody will come out of school perfect but at UCDS they get pretty close.

  • (2 years ago)

    I have 3 children enrolled in UCDS and have never been anything but blown away with their curriculum both social and academic parent involvement and diversity. My children have an understanding of diversity that spans beyond what people see on the outside and takes into account the true character of each individual. I know this is because of the education they have received at UCDS. The way they value each individual and teach to their strengths and challenges. The depth at which they learn about concepts in all subject areas is tremendous and as someone else previously commented our dinner conversations continue to amaze me. I am a parent who has sought outside support for one of my children because the school recognized concerns that I could not recognize as their parent. The help they pointed us too has been essential valuable and I will thank the caring and astute teachers for their unending guidance and constant support forever as my children continue to grow. Well worth it and SUPER FUN!

  • (2 years ago)

    There are many good things about UCDS - the innovative curriculum the sense of ownership students have of the school and the variety of programming. My daughter has a wide circle of friends and feels welcomed by the staff. The problem is that there is little value for parent input. It is difficult to communicate with teachers about issues with the curriculum - many students pay for outside tutoring - or bullying - and there are some behavior problems. Even so my biggest disappointment is the failure for the school to have any teacher of color on staff. The only diversity is from the facility and cleaning staff. The students body has very few children of color. I go out of my way to expose my child to diversity in the community so she doesn't think the world looks this way.

  • (3 years ago)

    My wife and I cannot be more pleased with the experiences our two children have had at UCDS. From Day one we have all felt a part of the UCDS community and from the stories about their day they share with us each evening I know we made the right decision. I have been very impressed with the degree of individualized attention they both receive and I can tell their individual needs are being met both academically and socially. Whether in the classroom spending time with the specialists or participating in after school activities I can say with confidence that UCDS is by far the best choice for our kids. Also I m sure everyone s experiences are different but in contrast to the previous parents comments we ve never felt that anything other than that the students and families take center stage at UCDS and feel the tuition is appropriate for what our children are taking away every day.

  • (3 years ago)

    UCDS was very impressive at first and we chose to send our children to the school. But after time we discovered that they were more interested in their reputation and finances than the families. We left the school very disappointed with their program and do not recommend UCDS. Save your money - they'll most certainly be asking for more donations in addition to the steep price tag.

  • (3 years ago)

    We strongly considered UCDS and were blown away by the facilities and how put together the place seemed to be. Soonafter we got scared off by some parents we know who have taken their kids out of the program. The feedback we learned was that the school is so enamored with it's curriculum and the institution that the kids may not necessarily come first or pick up on some of the fundamentals. When we asked about this the reaction we got was kind of chilly and dismissive (which only seemed to reinforce our concerns). To be fair some of our friends have kept their kids there and are very satisfied. It's a beautiful school though and has a great reputation. I'd just recommend talking to a lot of parents and parents of recent grads to get the full picture.

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Overall score

(based on 42 ratings & reviews)

  • Teacher quality
  • Principal leadership
  • Parent involvement


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