Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Last Updated: 11/19/2021 9:26 PM

Have questions? Here are our answers to the most commonly asked questions!  Don't see the answer you need or want to know more? Click on "Contact Us" at the top right of this page. 

 

About MSAD

For starters, we've been serving Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing students for more than 150 years! We are a statewide public school with a residential option that accepts students with varying degrees of hearing loss from all regions of the state. Our students have direct access to a challenging and rewarding education, provided in an environment rich in American Sign Language (ASL) and English. Our teachers are professionally trained and licensed in Deaf and Hard of Hearing education. 

We provide a comprehensive whole-child development model, in which our students have full access to a wide array of activities and experiences that allow them to develop critical thinking skills, language/communication abilities, coping/problem solving skills, and cultural awareness and competence. We aim for functional equivalence, providing our students with full accessibility beyond the minimal accessibility expectations as outlined in our nation's laws. 

Our graduates have gone on to great success as adults - becoming leaders in the community and in a wide variety of careers. 

There is NO cost to families of students who attend MSAD! Tuition and other instructional services, meals and residential services are covered by the Minnesota legislature. Transportation and any specialized education services (such as an one-on-one paraprofessional aide) are covered by the student's home school district. There are minimal fees for activities, sports and field trips. Parents may also choose to set up a student account for their child for personal shopping or expenses. 

We offer a residential option for our students who may live far away or have a need to stay in our dormitories. Approximately 40% of our students stay on campus, while the rest are day students. The dorms are closed on weekends as well as during holiday and school breaks. Dorm students usually go home on Fridays after school and return on Sunday evenings. For special events which may happen on the weekends, our students may opt to stay in the dorms over the weekend (i.e. Homecoming weekend, spring play performances, athletic events).

The student's home school district provides transportation to and from school. This service is identified and documented in students' Individualized Education Program (IEP). Parents may choose to transport their children as well. 

We provide home visits for infants from birth to two years of age, and an early childhood education program for students aged 18 months to five.

We have a transition program, called Academy Plus (also known as the A+ Program), that serves students ages 18-21. This program blends academics with career readiness, independent living skills, and community resources. This includes supporting college/career readiness, job searching skills, living independently, and developing a sense of belonging so students can become self-sustaining adults and participating members of their community. 

You can find a list of staff in our staff directory. Not sure who to get ahold of? Click on "Contact Us" at the top right of this page, and we'll help point you in the right direction.

 

Admissions and Enrollment

We serve children from birth to 21 years of age. We start by providing home visits for infants, from birth to 2. Starting at 18 months of age, we also offer the option of in-classroom instruction for toddlers and continue on-campus instruction up to transition aged-students in our Academy Plus (A+) program. 

We will work with your family and your child's home school district.  Give us a call at 507-384-6600 or click on "Contact Us" at the top right of this page, and we'll go through the enrollment process together. 

Absolutely! Give us a call at 507-384-6600 to set up a time and date. The MSAD administrators will give you a personal tour of our campus and classrooms, with one-on-one time afterwards to answer any questions you may have. COVID-19 UPDATE: Due to the ongoing pandemic, we are currently limiting the number of visitors on our campus. Please contact us and we'll work with you to make arrangements. 

Yes! We serve students with varying degrees of hearing loss, including students who use hearing aids and cochlear implants. We have audiological services to support students with auditory input and provide periodical evaluations of students' equipment and needs. We also provide speech and language services as stated in the student's IEP. 

We serve students with all kinds of hearing loss and signing ability.  While our instruction is primarily provided in American Sign Language (ASL), we also provide new signers with ASL classes and/or services and a voice interpreter until the student is able to access information in the classroom independently.  We also have an ASL specialist and a speech and language pathologist on staff to provide additional support and services according to the student's IEP. 

We are dedicated to meeting the needs of all of our students so they can prepare for life after school. For example, we have a Living Skills program for our students with developmental challenges and/or other learning needs. In this program, we have a low staff to student ratio in order to focus on each student's unique needs. Clear visuals, highly structured environments, and other supports are used to ensure student success. Our students take reading, writing and math classes and participate in our Work Experience program which includes opportunities both on and off campus. Students participate in community outings to grocery stores, retail stores, restaurants, and banks. They also learn basic cooking, cleaning, gardening, laundry and budgeting skills. 

Each student at MSAD has an Individual Education Program (IEP) in which we provide accommodations, individualized support/services, and other programming to help students achieve their goals. We also have a full array of related services that are available to our students (as defined in their IEPs), including Speech/Language services, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Orientation & Mobility, DeafBlind Interveners, and more. 

It depends. We are able to accept students from other states, which requires an agreement with your child's home school district and a tuition fee will be charged. Your child's home school district would also be responsible for transportation and any additional costs related to specialized special education services (such as an one-on-one paraprofessional aide).  Give us a call at 507-384-6600 for more information. 

 

Academics

Our core curriculum aligns with Minnesota State Standards. We have adopted textbooks that follow these standards, and use differentiated instructional practices and modifications to meet the needs of our students. The curricula include focus on English/Language Arts, Mathematics, Health, Physical Education, Science, Social Studies, Career and Technical Education, American Sign Language, and Social/Emotional Learning. 

MSAD offers an Extended School Year (ESY) program for students who have ESY services/goals included in their IEPs. This two-week program consists of classroom instruction, fun activities, and other enrichment opportunities for students. In addition, we offer Pathways to Life, a summer transition program for high school aged students. 

Our students earn regular diplomas, same as any other student in the state of Minnesota. If students do not meet requirements prior to aging out of our programs, they will receive a certificate of completion upon their departure from our school. 

In our ASL-English Bilingual Philosophy, we recognize and affirm the value of fluency in both languages; American Sign Language (ASL) as the most accessible language for the deaf/hard-of-hearing community; and English as the majority language in the United States. Using our students' visual/spatial strengths, ASL provides our students with clear, complete, and consistent access to linguistic and curricular information. Fluency in ASL provides a foundation of language knowledge and skills, which supports students' development of English skills (reading, writing, and if appropriate, speaking and listening), and increases opportunities for academic success.  MSAD's bilingual philosophy also includes emphasis on promoting development of students' cultural identities, recognizing the unique experiences within Deaf culture, as well as supporting the multiple cultural identities of each individual child. 

As part of our instructional approach, we strive to ensure that MSAD students can develop proficiency in both languages, using both languages appropriately in different situations. MSAD continually works to ensure a language-rich environment throughout the school by including language development as part of their curricula and/or activities, and providing direct/indirect instruction related to receptive and expressive language in all content areas. We believe that by ensuring full access to language and communication throughout the school, we can provide for greater growth in academic, linguistic, cognitive, and social skills. 

Click to learn more about our philosophy (MSA Policy 121), and our mission/vision/belief statements.

Our teachers are all licensed by the state of Minnesota's Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB) in the area of Deaf/Hard of Hearing Education. Also, many of our teachers have additional licensure in their subject area/grade level. Our related/support service staff are also licensed according to their respective areas. 

in addition - as required by law - all of our staff are required to meet and maintain certain competency levels in American Sign Language as identified for their position. All of our staff also receive professional development and certifications in different areas of expertise (such as child development, language development, autism, behavior supports, DeafBlind intervention services, etc.) to assist them in supporting our students.

Yes, we provide ACT testing for our MSAD juniors each year as part of the testing protocols established by the Minnesota Department of Education. Accuplacer tests are arranged as necessary with the South Central Community College for students desiring to take PSEO classes and/or preparing for college applications. 

 

Student Life/Extracurricular Activities

We have plenty of opportunities for your child! We offer an after school program (ASP) for both our dormitory and day (commuting) students from 3:15 to 5:00 Mondays through Thursdays during the school year. We also have an athletic program for our students elementary aged and older. To see what our athletic program offers, click here. Students also get to participate in a variety of organizations, such as Junior NAD, Student Body Government, Battle of Books, Math Competition, International Studies, and more. 

Our dorm students benefit from a wide range of activities, which include recreational and educational programs, social events, volunteer opportunities, work and independent living experiences, and more! For more information, check out our student life page.

Yes, we charge small participation fees for different activities (such as after school programming, sports, competitions, and dorm activities). For more information on participation fees, refer to page 62 of the Student Parent Handbook

Students are encouraged to incorporate personal effects into the decor of their dormitory rooms, so it feels like a "home away from home." For more information on what students can have in their rooms, contact the Student Life director or check out page 59 in our Student Parent Handbook.

We have a health clinic on campus staffed by licensed nurses, and they are trained in dispensing medication as needed. They are also available on-call during nights and weekends, and our overnight staff are trained in CPR and First Aid to respond to immediate needs. If your child becomes ill while at school, they can visit the health clinic. The nurse will contact you to inform you on your child's health needs.

 

General Questions for the Community

Campus tours by appointment for the general community are welcome! Please keep in mind that educational time is important to us and our students. To avoid classroom disruption for our students, we are limiting in-classroom visits and observations to special and education-related requests only. Please click on "Contact Us" at the top right of this page, and fill out the webform. We'll let you know if your request is approved.  COVID-19 UPDATE: Due to the pandemic, we are currently suspending all tours. For more information, please check back or contact us - virtual tours may be arranged. 

Yes, you can, pending space availability. Please refer to MSA Policy #902 for details regarding facility use requests. For inquiries, please contact the Superintendent's office at 507-384-6600. COVID-19 UPDATE: Due to the pandemic, we are currently suspending all rentals. Special/unique requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis. 

Thank you for your interest! Please refer to MSA Policy #450 for details regarding expectations and guidelines for volunteers. Then click on "Contact Us" at the top right of this page, or call 507-384-6600. COVID-19 UPDATE: Due to the pandemic, we are limiting on-campus personnel. Special/unique requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Please check back with us later or give us a call. 

We are always looking for great people to work with the MSAD family! Click here to see what's currently available: MSAD Jobs or - go to the State of Minnesota Careers Website and search "Minnesota State Academies."

We thank you for your generosity! Contact us at 507-384-6600, or click on "Contact Us" on the top right of this page, and we'd be happy to discuss this further with you.