"Creative and critical thinking. Project Based, hands-on learning."
Students enrolled 400
Hours 7:50 AM - 2:50 PM
School leader Bill Luna
Transportation options None
District Austin Discovery School
After school Yes

Contact this school

8509 Fm 969 Ste 200
Austin, TX 78724

School website
(512) 674-0700
(512) 674-3133
Nearby homes for sale
Map of Austin Discovery School address.

4 stars
Based on 66 ratings

Let others know what you
think about this school

September 08, 2014
My daughter just started Kindergarten at ADS this year. Although we are only a few weeks in, I will say that I am happy with our decision to send her here. To be completely honest there were a few things that made our decision a bit tough. Most of these things were superficial. Such as the older buildings and the lack landscaping (really does make a difference).I realized though, that what ADS offers in terms of learning experience was well above what our local elementary schools offer. My daughters class size is 17 kids. They hike, have eco-wellness and social and emotional programs incorporated into the curriculum. That's fantastic compared to our neighborhood elementary school. In just a few short weeks, her teachers (yes two) have sent (unprompted) email updates a couple times a week. The principal has sent several as well. We haven't experienced any issues with the "traffic". I'm not even sure what traffic people are referring to. Every school has issues with the car lines. We are really excited for what this school has to offer.

- submitted by a parent
August 19, 2014
Major concerns about the new principal and 30% staff turnover after he completed his first year. He is trying to do too much too quickly and it is impossible to get a straight answer from him. At the rate he's running off the established teachers, the school will have all newbies within a couple of years which is a shame because one of the things that is unique about ADS is the teachers who are working hard to build a real community. Communication from the administration is non-existent and always last minute. Two examples of recent issues: 1. It's just a few days until school starts and they haven't released class lists yet (probably because they don't want to reveal how much they over-enrolled since one of the school's selling points is the low student:teacher ratio). 2. They have a new bus service and just let everyone know that it won't be running until 2-3 weeks into the school year. The new driver just got his CDL and has never driven children before and he will be driving 70 kids around in rush hour traffic on I35 - scary thought.

- submitted by a parent
June 09, 2014
The new principal is going to turn ADS into a less than ordinary school. My kids will enter 1st and 4th grade next year and I have very mixed feeling right now. I m extremely worried about ADS's future. I love the community and I LOVE the teachers! However, the new principal is pretty much on probation as far as I m concerned. While he appears to be an effective leader and a go getter , he is pushing through some extremely aggressive initiatives in a short period of time. In my opinion, these initiatives are being pushed out (at light speed) at the expense of other, very important issues that still need to be fixed within the current infrastructure. I feel overall like he s a numbers guy with not a lot of emotional equity in our school (kind of like a career politician). Get the test scores up, attract more families and students, bigger, more not seeing the forest for the trees. I am not a crunchy hipster and I don t care about the sugar rules. What I do care about is this great school, and our community (and our teachers!!) being bulldozed so this guy can say oh, hey, look at all the great stuff *I* did, without considering the collateral damage. Stay gold ADS!!

- submitted by a parent
May 16, 2014
This school has been such a wonderful experience for my 2 children. No, it's not perfect (is anything?) but I'm left without words with regard to the learning experience my kids receive here. It truly makes learning so much fun for them, not a day goes by where they don't look forward to going to school. The staff is incredibly qualified and so creative working to meet the needs and learning styles of each child. Yes traffic is crazy, communication could be better, but I can look past that for my children. ADS is in our hearts, we all (parents included) love this place.

- submitted by a parent
April 04, 2014
ADS is the right place for my children and many others. The kids are happy, confident individuals starting in Kindergarten. The learning that takes place happens all over campus rather than just in a classroom. The weekly hikes and Eco-Wellness classes are something that my kids would not be getting at any other school. The teachers are, for the most part, outstanding and committed to this style of education. The parents are extremely involved as they need to be at this type of school. (I wish I could do more for the school myself!) The leadership of the school has gone through some transitions over the past few years however overall the spirit of the school has stayed the same. It is not perfect so I can't give it a 5 but I'd give it a 4.5 if I could!

- submitted by a parent
April 03, 2014
We have been at ADS for 5 years now and love it. The focus is on real education rather than passing state tests. There is a true outdoor learning component, and kids are truly nurtured in their emotional and social growth.

- submitted by a parent
April 02, 2014
My daughter is a first grader at ADS and has attended since kindergarten. Even though it is a bit of a drive and much less convenient than our well rated neighborhood school, it is worth it to send her there. The curriculum is centered on project based learning with a constructivist approach, which means kids there are learning by doing, finding connections between subjects and putting what they learn into practice. Instead of daily worksheets drilling facts, she is writing stories, researching and doing poster presentations, and explaining her math thinking rather than just writing down the right answer. She is also happy and excited to go to school because her class is a tight knit and supportive community. The teachers really care about the kids and create an environment where the kids learn to appreciate and help each other. ADS fosters whole child development which is something I really like about it. They just got approval to amend their charter to add middle school and I plan to keep her there through 8th grade.

- submitted by a parent
April 02, 2014
We joined ADS with a first and a third grader after moving to Austin from out of state. Both kids were welcomed into the community right away. We were impressed with energetic outgoing teachers who teach real life lessons. On the weekly Friday hikes, the children get sunshine, exercise and nature. Ecowellness is a unique part of the curriculum. There is good communication via Rallyhood and email. Our new principal has made excellent changes already and is visible and approachable at school. My oldest, now a fourth grader, is telling me to write "We love ADS!" right now.

- submitted by a parent
April 02, 2014
Caring teachers, outdoor education, 1:16 ratios, gardens, creative and invigorated teachers, involved families. I appreciate the careful growing and nurturing if my children who attend this school. Positive discipline and loving staff. A very involved parent body. We spent 3 years at another school and are a new family who love the difference. My children have blossomed and are challenged. No grades doesn't mean too easy. I love the portfolio evaluations - they really help us understand what my children are learning.

- submitted by a parent
March 27, 2014
We have 2 kids at ADS, and we're very happy there. The teachers are highly educated (moreso than our exceptionally-rated neighborhood school). There's no bullying, and the kids are generally sweet and kind. I love that my kids learn so much without realizing they're learning. They also get a lot more individual attention, and more challenge. The homework is less busywork and more thought-provoking. We also love the ecowellness program and Friday hikes. The kids don't feel like they've been cooped up all day, but they're not just "playing," either. They really do a lot of learning outside when weather permits. The teachers really care about the kids, which makes me feel like my children are safe. Most of all, my kids are happy and enjoy going to school.

- submitted by a parent
February 01, 2014
Not a school. More like a group of buddies running a fundraising machine that feeds back into their close knit group. "Oh, you're a parent? wanna be an administrator? hired. Oh, I know you from somewhere, wanna teach?"...the ridiculous list goes on and on. Look at how often parents and staff bounce around from position to position, all of which they would be completely unqualified if vetted by any other charter, private, or public school. But hey, they can all hold hands and sing good intentions while the education and emotional health of young children are sacrificed. The complete disregard for very basic standards and regulations has harmed children at ADS. Don't be fooled. ADS carries some dark secrets. Investigate before you enroll your child.

- submitted by a parent
September 23, 2013
Both of my children are non-traditional learners, and ADS has served them well. My son, especially, required a very individualized approach, and ADS has jumped through hoops to make it work. My kids love learning now. I don't believe any regular public school, or likely and other charter school, would have worked so hard and tried so many things to accommodate my kids.

- submitted by a parent
September 19, 2013
We are on our third year at ADS and have had a great experience. The team teaching has been wonderful and the specials are very enriching. My kids go on hikes every friday and garden every week. Science, art, and music are all a large part of the curriculum. They don't just teach to the test like most schools in Texas. Yes it is a school filled with hipsters but that by no means implies a lack of diversity. My children's classes have all been very diverse. As for the food restrictions, if a parent is going to get offended because certain foods aren't allowed on campus, I fear there is a bigger issue. ADS would NEVER allow a teacher to rip anything from a child's hand. If a parent sends their child to school with a sugar and preservative laden lunch, its the teachers who have to deal with the effects of those chemicals. The food policy is there to help kids get the most nutrition so they can function at their best. Parents should be involved in their child's academics so that they aren't surprised at the end of the year if the child has fallen behind. These bad reviews sound to me like parents blaming the school for their own shortcomings.

- submitted by a parent
September 17, 2013
My child attended ADS for one year. I found the parent/teacher communication to be unacceptable. As a parent, after basically demanding a parent teacher conference, I was told that my child was doing just great. My child was not doing great, not at all. As a parent you are often told what they think you want to hear. It almost seems like you have to be on the payroll to know what is going on at the school. The administration is no better. My child was in 3rd grade and had no idea who the principal was. Really? In a school with less than 400 students. Most of the faculty have children attending the school and it seems they move on when their child is done. The school has no diversity whatsoever. If you and your child can fit in with the clique, you will have a chance at succeeding in this school. The test results speak for themselves. It's hard to send your child to what you believe is a "better" school and watch him/her regress. I would not recommend this school for a normal well adjusted child.

- submitted by a parent
September 17, 2013
Austin Discovery School is an incredibly different school compared to anything I have ever attended or any my daughters have attended. A school that places such emphasis on community, enrichment, and educating children on the environment is a school that would benefit any child. My daughter has blossomed as a student and as a person due to the quality of the education she is receiving from the wonderful teachers and staff at this school. The staff and parents here work so hard to beautify the campus and help make our school a great place to come and learn and play. Honestly, the only bad thing is I wish it went higher than 6th grade. We have one more year to go and we will miss this place so much.

- submitted by a parent
June 14, 2013
My 2 kids have both gone here since Kindergarten. My daughter will be entering 4th grade this fall and has thrived here, even excelled. My son on the other hand is being held back in the 1st grade because "he doesn't retain math and reading skills." He has had the same teachers for two years and I was not made aware of his struggle until VERY late in the year, like only 2 months left. They stuck him in tutoring which 2 weeks before the end of school they told me didn't work and that he was going to have to repeat 1st grade and may need to be tested for dyslexia etc. WHY THE HECK DIDN'T YOU CATCH THIS EARLIER AND TEST HIM THEN SO HE DIDN'T SUFFER HAVING TO REPEAT THE 1ST GRADE!!! His scores showed that he was at grade level at the beginning of the year and that they dropped! He reads just fine to me at home and his math does need work but I am blown away that help didn't come until it was too late. The earlier reviews about it being a hipsters paradise are accurate. The over the top sugar control is accurate. I have such mixed feelings because we have had very different experiences with both our children. We are trying them for one more year. we shall see how it goes.

- submitted by a parent
June 13, 2013
I have two children, and both have attended or are attending ADS. My daughter graduated 6th grade from ADS and has just completed her first year at Kealing - a very challenging, competitive middle-school - where she earned straight A's every report card. My son is still at ADS where he is excelling at math and reading. ADS is based on solid principals of how children learn best. They work hard to nurture inquisitive, thoughtful children. They understand that outdoor time is imperative for cognitive development. Sweet snacks are prohibited because sugar spikes cause so many negative issues. The teachers here are teaching because they love it, and it shows. But ADS is not for everybody. The school doesn't always do a great job educating the parents about the benefits of these ways, so if you don't come in knowing, it will just seem oddly loose and restrictive at the same time. It's not a great school for rote learners, or kids whose learning style requires rigorous structure. It is a wonderful school for people who want enthusiastic, life-long learners with a genuine appreciation for the world we live in.

- submitted by a parent
June 12, 2013
Our child is not coming back next year. I absolutely love the idea of ADS and loved everything I was told on the school tour. But I barely saw any of it during the school year. Academics were less than. Yes, she learned about rainforest and how it needs to be protected. But nothing else! The parent community is weak, there is no diversity. Mold is in the building. Filthy dusty classrooms. Constant water puddles in the hallways from the water fountains. It's like noone cares and noone takes pride. And the food police! Man. I am all for healthy eating. I couldn't send her anything in her lunchbox that had added sugar. When she brought a bottle of hibiscus tea with a little bit of honey, the teacher ripped it out of her hands and dumped it in the sink. If you are looking for a school where parents compete who is more crunchy, whose kids completely lack any kind of personal hygiene, who have no social skills, but sure know A LOT about rainforest -- then this is the school for you. Otherwise, don't bother.

- submitted by a parent
February 15, 2013
It pains me to rate ADS as below average, but in spite of effort on all fronts, the school did more harm than good for my child. We did not realize the full extent of the negative effect of his years at ADS until he began attending another school. It is my hope that things improve at ADS, but I would advise any parent considering ADS to seek feedback from families who have left the school to formulate a balanced view of its strengths and weaknesses.

- submitted by a parent
September 27, 2012
All that on the wab page about teachers working together with parents to benefit the children is a complete farce. ADS is working for ADS to generate funding just like any other public school. As long as you don't have some idealized notion that this school is any different than any other public school, you should be fine. It probably is just as good as some public schools in Austin, but it is currently listed as academically unacceptable, so... This year they have over promised and under delivered.

- submitted by a parent
August 24, 2012
I gree with some of the most recent postings. My son attended ADS for just one year and we've moved on, neither he nor I felt it was a good fit. Some things were minor, others not so. The lack ofcultural and racial diversity was an issue, the noise level of the classrooms affected my son's concentration, and the teachers by and large appeared unable to figure out how to positively deal with a regular boy who happens to like sports. At times it seemed like a place where the kiddos had to be overly mature for their age if they were to be happy. I felt like high achieving girls fared etter than boys. On the positive side, the aftercare program is awesome and most of the teachers are wonderful.

- submitted by a parent
July 22, 2012
My son was part of the first class at ADS and just finished sixth grade there. Overall the experience was acceptable but there were a number of areas of concern. I must say that, if it were not for my strong desire for him to go through grade school in the same setting I would have removed him from the school. One entire school year promised Friday hikes were put off almost entirely. One year I attended a parent/teacher conference and was assured that my son was well ahead of where he should be and he almost immediately thereafter failed the TAKS test. He has been made to participate in a "goth day" and was shown a graphically violent R rated movie. In the latter case it took months for the incident to receive proper attention. Time will tell if the experience at ADS has prepared my child for middle school or future challenges but I can't honestly say I would recommend the school to another parent.

- submitted by a parent
May 26, 2012
I am a native ADS parent, having been with the school since its first year. I have seen this school evolve, watched teachers and families come and go, felt joy and sorrow over various school decisions, questioned my sanity after realizing how much money I spend on gas to manage the commute to BFE. It isn't perfect--no school is. But at the end of the day, it is still the best public school option for young children in the city of Austin. Forget the Great Schools rating, which is based on test scores. Forget your own anxiety about your kids "keeping up" academically--worry about that later when you have teenagers. My kid who started in first grade at ADS is at the top of his class now in middle school. Don't underestimate your abilities as a PARENT to influence your child's learning. Meanwhile, let them be children while you go to work. Let them cultivate a reason to want to LIVE by playing and being out in nature on this beautiful campus. Encourage the school to give them MORE freedom, not less. These teachers and administrators feel enough pressure from the state regarding their academic programs without additional pressure from parents. Early childhood is sacred and fleeting.

- submitted by a parent
May 06, 2012
I have mixed feelings about ADS and most people I know who have sent their child there have had mixed feelings, many of whom have withdrawn their child. The philosophy of the school is one that I embrace but seems challenging for the school to implement. Academically I do not feel that my child is prepared to compete within the public school setting. I do feel that my child is able to be more creative and have more unstructured time than if he attended a public school though at times the lack of structure and lack of high academic expectations seems to be a major drawback. It often feels like the children can put anything down on paper and a party will be thrown irregardless of its' quality or the effort the child put into the project. I think this school works best for children who are highly self motivated and come from family situations that are uncomplicated. The school is also lacking in cultural and racial diversity which I find discouraging.

- submitted by a parent
February 09, 2012
I love this school and have always been very proud to be a part of it. The emphasis on "Discovering" through learning, instead of just passing the test, supports our child in ways that the public school system wagged the finger and discouraged our child. ADS is unique, alternative, diverse and multi-cultural to just name a few positives. The down side in this beautiful system of learning is clearly that the management/admin is often not eye-to-eye with the parents or teachers needs. There is a few instances where I've felt they are all bed fellows interested in backing each other rather than the good of the school. * Maybe hiring outside your click would do the school some good* The teachers however are ROCK STARS and amazing in their efforts and commitment.

- submitted by a parent
October 31, 2011
I am in my 2nd year with ADS,and I find the staff to be exceptionally dedicated and invested in their work.I feel good knowing that my child doesn't have to pledge allegiance to the flag/Texas or walk the straight and narrow path to get her education.It's also a school that values respect for each other AND their differences.If a parent thinks they are somehow not "hip" enough.that may be their own personal issue.I've never seen anyone express anything but good will toward each other.ADS is a very positive learning environment,in my opinion.

- submitted by a parent
September 25, 2011
I am sorry to say our experience with ADS was similar to some of the other reviewers here in that we felt very unwelcome. We are not a completely traditional family, but if you aren't all about organic food or alternative lifestyles or boycotting Cheerios because the palm oil used in their production is killing the rainforests (this is a real example) it can feel as if you are outcast. The academics are about what you would find at other public schools from what we experienced. This school seems to be a Mecca for hipsters and hippies. That is not a bad thing, but it is certainly NOT the definition of "diverse".

- submitted by a parent
September 21, 2011
Academically, public school has failed my gifted child. ADS also disappoints, but in a different way. Bad stuff: Classes have 2 teachers (good), but one seemed to hate kids. There is a strong emphasis on parental involvement (good) but each time I volunteered I felt very unwelcome. Teacher notes on her writing assignments were full of misspellings and bad grammar. Other work seemed to emphasize self-esteem rather than correct answers- that or the teacher was lazy. Communication is TERRIBLE. Fliers came home about events without dates, or I'd show up for something that had randomly been canceled. There are so many alternative kids that if yours doesn't have dreadlocks, or wear hemp shoes, or brings pudding in her lunch box- well she just won't fit in. My kid is very social and easily makes friends. She's a compassionate kid- it was hard to see her worry about what others think. Good stuff: The specials teachers are all AMAZING. The kids garden and go hiking. The festivals are unique and meaningful. The kids do projects for charity. Problems are worked out by the kids, not the teachers. If you want a socially diverse environment, go for ADS- just don't expect much academically.

- submitted by a parent
September 17, 2011
My grandson is not a "traditional" student and sitting in rows of desks listening to teachers who believe they and the sole possessors of knowledge would bore him. ADS allows him to explore his interests while giving him a great education. This school is very Rogerian - where the emphasis on the student not statistical outcomes. Love this school!!

- submitted by a community member
May 14, 2011
If you are looking for a place where staff goes braless, has tattoos, wears spandex, and at the ding of a chime children freeze and make the peace sign, this is the palace for you. Don t be fooled by peace and understanding. If you do not conform, the environment is manipulative on the part of the staff and shunning by the students. Like many schools that experience some success and become condescending, such is the case with ADS. They are dismissive of what the parents know about their children. There are more layers of bureaucracy than in a public school three times its size. They use the tribes program does not provide purported value for students. Its application at ADS is strictly classroom management. Many of the teachers either over control or have no control. Unfortunately for my children, they experienced both extremes. The mission statement says that they provide individualized curriculum. If your child is advanced or below, prepare to do battle just like every other public school. The cognitively guided instruction that they boast of, obviously looks good on paper.

- submitted by a parent
November 27, 2010
this school is awesome! just the right amount of homework. the staff is very kind and helpful to every student, especially those in need. helps kids feel good about themselves with the no grade policy. just encouragement. keeps kids healthy with gardening and hikes. send your kid to this school!!!!!!!!

- submitted by a community member
September 12, 2010
ADS is an awesome school. The kids not only receive an excellent academic education, but social/emotional as well. The overall culture encourages creativity, originality, and acceptance. we LOVE IT OUR SCHOOL.

- submitted by a parent
June 22, 2010
My daughter just finished kindergarten at ADS. The focus on portfolio work to show a students development was great. We saw her progress throughout the entire year, and then reviewed the progress from beginning to end to see how far she has come. The teachers are very involved and care a great deal for the kids. The integrated projects go a long way to help learning (they use one focus topic for all areas of study- bug, birds, ocean, space). This provided so much continuity throughout the day and my daughter absorbed a lot of information in a fun atmosphere (lots of hands-on) My daughter is thriving at this school and we are looking forward to another year.

- submitted by a parent
no rating April 26, 2010
'Because we have hikes and half days on Friday---I love Austin Discovery School!' (my daughter, age 6--kindergarten). I love the school because the teachers love what they do and they are so caring and loving. They focus on nutrition (no lunchables, corn syrup, sugar or junk food allowed--for lunch, snacks, or parties) and environmental issues--zero waste lunch program. It's very diverse, and open--they community is fantastic. Their view on discipline is amazing. We love it...

- submitted by a parent
no rating April 22, 2010
This is one of the finest schools I have seen in a while. It is organized to help your child become a lifelong learner, not just a successful test taker.

- submitted by a parent
no rating April 22, 2010
great opportunities for creativity, learning and fun.

- submitted by a community member
no rating April 21, 2010
because they can incorporate all the subjects and still put an emphasis on the importance of the arts...they encourage team work and communication...they allow the children to discover new things...

- submitted by a parent
April 21, 2010
It is a beacon of classical education in a State where children's learning is purely a statistical endeavor for the sake of ego stroking uninvolved parents.

- submitted by a parent
no rating April 19, 2010
My granddaughter Ella goes to the school and i also had the pleasure of attending the talent school two weeks ago.....I was very impressed and I know how much she loves the school and how much she is learning from very dedicated teachers!!!

- submitted by a community member
no rating April 19, 2010
I believe this to be a very creative and educational school, I see it in my friend's son and her friend's kids, I would recommend it to anyone.

- submitted by a parent
no rating April 19, 2010
The outdoor walks, the emphasis on group problem solving, and the parents/kids.

- submitted by a parent
no rating April 17, 2010
The teachers truly care about your child and it shows when my kids are happy about going to school.They are always so proud to share what they've learned.

- submitted by a parent
no rating April 15, 2010
Couldn't ask for a better place for my kids.

- submitted by a parent
no rating April 15, 2010
The teachers are so dedicated, caring, enthusiastic, and innovative!

- submitted by a parent
no rating April 15, 2010
I love my school because the dedicated teachers and administrators care about each child's journey to a life-long love of learning!

- submitted by a parent
no rating April 15, 2010
The art and gardening program are fantastic! The teachers are innovative, committed and dedicated to each and every child in the school. The children are engaged in their own eductation.

- submitted by a parent
no rating April 15, 2010
Awesome! Gardening, emotional intelligence, academics, art, community, respect

- submitted by a parent
no rating April 15, 2010
Austin Discovery School is amazing because the teachers are knowledgeable, loving, and great role models. The schedule is beautifully balanced making sure to incorporate the wonders of nature into their lessons. There is also a wonderful sense of community and respect among everybody (students, staff, parents). There are hens on the campus and a pond full of life. These two help the children learn about respect to all living beings since they help care for them. We're lucky to have our daughter in ADS!!!

- submitted by a parent
no rating April 15, 2010
Teaching children to THINK and ANALYZE is a most important attribute of an excellent school. Austin Discovery School does that

- submitted by a community member
no rating April 15, 2010
Critical thinking environment, exceptional teachers and master junior gardening program

- submitted by a community member
no rating April 15, 2010
My grandson loves his school - what an excellent start for his future!

- submitted by a parent
no rating April 15, 2010
They work with each child's individual learning style and education needs. Every child is treated as an individual with individual needs.

- submitted by a community member
no rating April 15, 2010
The teachers and staff are amazing! ADS feels like home.

- submitted by a parent
no rating April 15, 2010
The school has a reputation as a critical thinking environment.

- submitted by a community member
April 15, 2010
I really like that they teach children valuable things about life, rather than the rank n' file standard that dominates the country today.

- submitted by a community member
April 14, 2010
Austin Discovery School is a dynamic, vibrant school that nurtures a child's curiosity about the world.

- submitted by a parent
April 14, 2010
ADS is a school that really does make a difference. The entire staff is dedicated to teaching a love of learning and aims to allow students to experience knowledge rather than simply memorize. I am extremely pleased with the school, the curriculum, the staff and the parent community. I feel very grateful to be a part of ADS.

- submitted by a parent
April 14, 2010
Our son was homeschooled, so we were very particular in what we wanted for him when our schedules no longer allowed us to homeschool him. Austin Discovery School met our needs so well that all other options paled in comparison. He was lucky enough to be drawn in the lottery and has been doing so well since his very first day. His friends and experiences are all unique and diverse and he has really blossomed as a person and a student. He loves it and we love it!

- submitted by a parent
no rating April 14, 2010
Our family is so happy to be part of the ADS community! We love how thoughtful, creative, dedicated and fun the staff and teachers are. The proof is in the pudding and my daughter can't wait to get to school in the morning. Hooray for ADS!

- submitted by a parent
no rating April 14, 2010
With 2 grade levels in each classroom, the students get to stay with the same teachers for 2 years and the teachers really get to know and understand each child's strengths and weaknesses. We love the school grounds and the fact that they enable hikes, gardening classes and science exploration/classes outside. We also appreciate all ADS does to work towards improving our larger community, such as the Zero Waste Program and collecting pennies in each classroom for rain forest preservation.

- submitted by a parent
no rating April 14, 2010
This school is an exceptional learning environment and a beautiful, loving community for children, families, teachers and staff. The teaching is creative and rigorous. Students are actually taught not just their academic subjects, but how to treat each other and how to support their own growth as curious, compassionate, connected human beings. I feel so fortunate to have found ADS for my children.

- submitted by a parent
April 14, 2010
The Austin Discovery School makes my educational dreams for my children a reality.

- submitted by a parent
no rating April 14, 2010
The teachers are exceptional, the community is close-knit, and the outdoor learning environment is a perfect fit for my little guy. But what I love most about Austin Discovery School is that they teach children how to think for themselves!

- submitted by a parent
April 14, 2010
I love that outdoor learning is a huge part of Austin Discovery School's philosophy! It fits really well with my child and our family. I also am proud of the Zero-Waste Program that helps teach environmental responsibility to young children.

- submitted by a parent
no rating April 14, 2010
This is a school that focuses on the fundamentals of low student teacher ratio and hands on relevant learning experiences. My son has been at this school since its inception and, sadly, next year will be his last as the school thus far only extends to the sixth grade. There is nothing that will even come close to replacing it. My son has made tremendous social and intellectual strides at this school. It has been a very supportive learning community for he and his parents. His younger brother can begin here next year. We are very excited to start again.

- submitted by a parent
no rating April 14, 2010
A critical thinking environment, exceptional teachers and master junior gardening program are only a few of the things that make this America's #1 School!

- submitted by a parent
no rating April 14, 2010
Austin Discovery School is wise beyond its 5 years, founded and populated by people looking for something above and far beyond traditional public schooling. Everything, from academics, to discipline, to assessments, is cutting edge, and geared toward the success and well-rounded education of the students. I love the curriculum, I love the outdoor class time, and I love the sense of stewardship ADS has cultivated in my children's world. My kids have flourished there, and I couldn't be happier. The teachers and staff put their hearts into their work. When there is a problem, someone is always willing to listen and work toward a solution. My children are growing critically, socially, and learning more than I ever thought possible. I feel incredibly lucky to be a part the ADS community.

- submitted by a parent
no rating April 14, 2010
ADS-- Not enough space to write about all the wonderful attributes ADS has. A community of staff, teachers and parents who care about children, education, and the environment.

- submitted by a parent
no rating April 14, 2010
My kids went from homeschooling to ADS. ADS mirrored my educational and discipline philosophies and did a much better job than I had of teaching my children.

- submitted by a parent
no rating April 14, 2010
My son loves going to school, to ADS, loves the teachers, and has great friends. THAT, i think, is the best review I could offer.

- submitted by a parent
April 14, 2010
The teachers are awesome and really care about the kids.

- submitted by a parent
no rating April 14, 2010
Great school. Love the focus on science, nature, and reading. The portfolio method with reviews focuses on good work and self evaluation (goal setting.)

- submitted by a parent
no rating April 14, 2010
Loving, cozy environment. Passionate teachers. Awesome and dedicated staff. My son looks forward to school every day.

- submitted by a parent
no rating April 14, 2010
The emphasis on nature, gardening, long nature hikes on the beautiful campus and most importantly their willingness to work with each child to develop learning strategies that work for that indivual. They have helped my children catch up to their grade levels in all acadenics despite their learning disabilities.

- submitted by a parent
no rating April 14, 2010
What a wonderful learning environment Austin Discovery School provides for our children. At ADS our children are free to be themselves and receive an amazing education in a safe, loving environment. The teachers and support staff are top notch. My child is thriving at ADS.

- submitted by a parent
December 22, 2009
My son (3rd) and daughter (Kinder) are both at ADS this year. My son was in a private school pre-K to 1st and a different charter for 2nd, and ADS is *by far* the best fit for him. He has always been a really different kid. At ADS, he's been accepted and has made friends like never before. He was miserable last year, but this year, he comes home happy and talking about school. I'm pretty sure my daughter would thrive wherever she went to school, but ADS has been great for her also. Her teachers nurture her interests and talents but also push her to try new things. Yes, there are hiccups because it's just not a traditional school, but THANK GOD. I am so pleased ADS, and I can't imagine sending my kids ANYWHERE else after this experience.

- submitted by a parent
August 18, 2009
This review submitted without content.


- submitted by a community member
August 12, 2009
ADS has been a perfect fit for our family. The teachers are wonderful. We've been very pleased with how this young charter school has grown in just a few short years.

- submitted by a parent
July 13, 2009
Our son just finished kindergarten at ADS and we were delighted. His teachers were fantastic; he learned so much and had a great attitude about school. ADS is distinguished from other public schools by its environmental science program (including a weekly hike), the nutritional guidelines, its multi-age classrooms, the emphasis on learning by doing, and a general respect for the whole child. Prospective parents should check out the website and go on a tour to get a feel for the school. The written assessment ADS uses is perhaps more meaningful than number grades -- you really know where your child's strengths and weakness are. I found ADS orderly (not chaotic) and I thought discipline was well-handled. Parents can expect their child to do around 10 minutes of homework a night per grade. The word about ADS is out; there are now several applicants per opening.

- submitted by a parent
no rating April 16, 2009
So far we are pleased with the treatment from administration. They have been very helpful.

- submitted by a parent
March 25, 2009
This review submitted without content.


- submitted by a parent
November 14, 2008
Things have not been perfect at ADS. From what I have seen many charter schools fall around year 3. That is not what has happened at ADS. ADS has continued to grow in accademic excellence while maintaining the sence of community that is beyond compare.Organization is getting better and better, and the sense of love, warmth, and safety are increaed by the fact the staff know and care for every child. More and more there are groups of parents who are touring the school. Parents are encouraged to observe and to be a part of what is going on there. I agree this school may not be for every child. It is not for every family. But the quality of teachers is amazing! I would encourage anyone who was at ADS year 1 or 2, check out what is going on now. ADS is accomplishing what it set out to do!

- submitted by a parent
October 23, 2008
In truth ADS did have a rocky couple of years, but it's begun to hit its stride. Discipline and safety are no longer issues, in my opinion. The school has much improved leadership. Each year has seen great improvement. This school year (08 - 09) has so far been remarkable for the quality of new teachers, organizational flow, solid disciplinary procedures and much more. The folks here are passionate (and that's no small thing) and they work very hard along with many dedicated parents. What they have achieved is very rar--a sense of community, of family, that no standard public school can match. As a parent of a student here, I am proud of ADS's accomplishments and I look forward to its growth. This school is not for every child--as seen by some of the negative reviews--but for many like myself it's the education I wish I had had.

- submitted by a parent
September 30, 2008
This school has some really great ideas and some things that don't work very well. For children whose parents are actively engaged with the learning process outside the classroom, the play-centered curriculum can be really effective. For parents who have a lot going on in their own lives and may not have time to augment the lessons at home, it is likely to result in children falling behind their peers at other schools. The kids have a half day every Friday, which lends to even looser ideas of what school is about. This too can be good or bad depending on the kid and the larger family. Looser philosophies on discipline combined with inexperienced teachers can lead to chaos in the classrooms, but children who are bright energetic and eager to learn - with continual reinforcement at home - could blossom with the ideals promoted by the staff.

- submitted by a parent
July 02, 2008
We too were deeply in love with this school for a couple of years. There are a lot of positives here when compared to public schools, less structure, focus on the whole child, nature hikes...etc, etc. The facts are, are that this school is still trying to find it's way, sometimes at the expense of your child. If you are having educational concerns for you child and you want to know who would be the best fit for them the following year, GOOD LUCK. The teaching staff, year to year, seems very schizophrenic. We still don't know who the teachers for the next grade will be next year. It will probably be someone who's never taught before and who will be thrown in a room with one other in/unexperienced teacher and 32 kids. Sound scary? It is. I would agree with other reviews here, looks good on paper, just not there.

- submitted by a parent
June 09, 2008
I'm a former elementary school teacher, so I know what goes on in schools. Some of the previous reviewers mentioned discipline problems and 'chaos'. Folks, that happens (and in greater quantities) at every school. At ADS teachers work to effect a harmonious classroom that includes all students, regardless of behavior. Administrators give parents a behind-the-scenes look at the way the school works. All schools are a little chaotic - they just don't let parents see that. The ADS curriculum follows the best current brain-based and methodological research. It's implementation is very good. Teachers are dedicated. Bottom line: if your highest educational goal is that your child learn to 'paint-by-numbers', send them to a traditional school. If the goal is that your child develop into a 'thinker', send in your ADS application now.

- submitted by a parent
May 27, 2008
I can see why some are concerned. Last year (yr 2) the TAKS scores were less than acceptable, by 3 students. Please see this year s scores at: http://www.austindiscoveryschool.org/taks.php Yes, there will be some who do better than others in public, private or charter schools. Please judge this school on the merit it deserves and not the comments of the few.

- submitted by a parent
no rating May 22, 2008
I support an environment where children are taught through visual, auditory and kinesthetic means; I support an environment where children are given the opportunity to learn to live by their choices; I support an environment where children learn to live in a win-win world; I support an environment where children learn to take responsibility for the land upon which they live; I support an environment just like this: Austin Discovery School.

- submitted by a parent
May 07, 2008
Enrolling our son into this school was the worst mistake my husband and I have made as parents. Before going to ADS our son knew the alphabet, and was starting to read. Once he started going to this school he refused to do anything in the way of learning. He cried often after school. We were in the process of having him see a child psychologist when we took out of this school and put him back into public.. He is doing wonderfully now, and his sellf esteem is great! Please thouroughly investigate this school before enorlling your child here.

- submitted by a parent
March 27, 2008
The school has no text books, report cards, no nurse, counselor, and the old building it is located in is a danger for kids that roam around free of any structure.

- submitted by a parent
January 24, 2008
This review submitted without content.


- submitted by a student
September 25, 2007
My son can't wait to get to school every day (this is amazing I think, for a fifth grader, at least in our family)! He cried often in the mornings while in public school about bullies. He didn't feel like he belonged. The teachers here are committed to behavior policies both for the kids and for themselves. It shows in how they speak respectfully to the children and to each other. There is a palpable atmosphere of caring, respect and democracy here. We have tried public school and home schooling and this is where he is the happiest. I think a child needs to be happy before they can truly learn.

- submitted by a parent
May 14, 2007
If the new administration can follow through on its desire for a more consistent, rigorous, and rigorously applied curriculum from classroom to classroom, and if the chaos factor can be brought under control, this will be one of the best schools in Austin. Otherwise, it'll continue to be a really neat but under-performing exercise in social development.

- submitted by a parent
March 12, 2007
Great philosophy on paper, the school is just not there yet. We felt the environment was extremely chaotic and our very bright child was not challenged at all. The teachers are kind and very hard working. Parent involvement is huge, although we felt somewhat unsafe with so many people in and out of the classrooms all day. This school is worth checking out, but if you value some structure and your child needs to be academically challenged this is probably not the best place for you.

- submitted by a parent
March 08, 2007
My child is learning so much -- it blows me away. He came to the school in kindergarten -- not even knowing his abcs -- and now he is writing by sounding it out. He loves school! He is thriving academically and as a whole child. That is what I love about this school -- the teachers focus on the creative process and it is amazing. The gardening and specials programs rock! They had a labrynth celebration during the holidays -- the kids wrote their own songs, made lanterns and walked the labrynth. I feel my child is at a private school but it is free. They use the Becky Bailey discipline model and boy does it work! The way they learn to solve problems is so cool! So recommend this school!

- submitted by a parent
March 04, 2007
The teachers are doing their best with VERY limited resources. Children are encouraged to express their individuality and are involved 'hands on' in the fundraising which is great. On the downside, there is no principal leadership. The progressive curriculum and mixed grade groups should mean (in theory) that the brighter kids are encouraged and pushed to learn more. In practice, they are not. Discipline style means that the better behaved kids are largely ignored whilst the teachers fight fires with bad behavior. The school has a great philosophy on paper. In reality, it holds traditional education in scorn and shuns teaching the basics in math, literacy and science. Kids are taught largely through games and so K/1 classes are very similar to preschool.

- submitted by a parent
January 04, 2007
This review submitted without content.


- submitted by a parent
December 11, 2006
The academic program is wonderful on paper but the wimpy discipline policy undermines everything that makes this school so great in my opinion. My suggestion is to go in with your eyes wide open. This is all just my opinion but please check it out thoroughly. This school has some pretty big problems.

- submitted by a parent
November 08, 2006
An incredible school all around. Classes are hands on learning. Children are able to grasp and apply lessons learned while working as a team; which also increases communication and social skills. The music program allows children to experiment with different sounds from different instruments (including their own voices). The hikes and gardening are amazing. The art program will blow your mind! The school truly encompasses the nurturing of the whole child. The teacher to student ratio is so that each child gets undivided attention when needed. I have three children there (one with special needs) and cannot imagine us being this happy anywhere else. I would encourage anyone who is unhappy with their child s school to make the trip, check it out, and give it the well-deserved chance to be a place to bring out the wonderful person that lies inside each of our children.

- submitted by a parent
April 11, 2006
A school well on its way to becoming one of Austin's most innovative schools. Children come first here! Learning is active and interesting explorations,and the staff has a firm committment to improving the school in every way as it matures.

- submitted by a teacher
no rating March 30, 2006
My child is in kindergarten at ADS and has had a wonderful year. We love the emphasis on nature and the gardening and nature hikes, as well as the well-rounded curriculum (many other public schools have foresaken spanish and other areas to focus only on the TAKS test). The teachers are wonderful and caring, and my child is thriving academically and emotionally. This being the school's first year, some things are still in flux, but we are very pleased with what they have accomplished this year and envision a very strong future for the schol as it develops.

- submitted by a parent
February 04, 2006
We are very impressed with ADS and its commitment to individualizing curriculum, etc., for each child. The teachers are wonderful, the staff is knowledgeable, the parents are highly involved. There are weekly art, drama, physical education, music, and, soon, Spanish classes for all students. The kids are learning and having a good time doing it. I couldn't ask for a better school for my child.

- submitted by a parent
September 18, 2005
I am a parent at ADS and I really feel blessed that this school exists. I thank my lucky stars every day that there is a tuition-free school that honors childhood, a place where my son has the freedom to reach his full potential as a creative & curious human being. I am proud to say my child spends almost 2 hours every day outdoors! The parent community here is amazing and involvement is over-the-top for a public school. The administation is smart, progressive, and responsive. Initially I was concerned about the commute, but it is worth it. It is early in this school's history and there will be growing pains this first year, but so far we are all very pleased.

- submitted by a parent
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ADS purpose is to develop socially and emotionally aware children through hands on project based instruction which focuses on good health, fine arts, environmental and social stewardship, while pursuing meaningful and rigorous academics.

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Austin Discovery School
8509 Fm 969 Ste 200, Austin, TX  78724
(512) 674-0700
Last modified Austin Discovery School is a Charter school that serves grades K-6. It has received a GreatSchools rating of 7 out of 10 based on academic quality.
Austin Discovery School Rating: 4 out of 5 based on 103 reviews. Top