Classroom Interpreting

Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment®

EIPA Evaluation Process

To assess the skills of the individual interpreter, the EIPA utilizes two video samples of actual classroom settings called stimulus tapes. The first tape is used to assess the interpreter’s receptive skills and the second to assess his/her expressive skills. The tapes are chosen based on the grade level (elementary or secondary) and the sign language or system he/she is using (ASL-PSE, PSE-ASL, or MCE-PSE).


Receptive Stimulus Tapes Version A & B

Expressive Stimulus Tapes Version A & B

Elementary Child signer using MCE Four elementary classrooms, from 1st to 6th grade
  Child signer using PSE
  Child signer using ASL
Secondary Teen signer using MCE Three secondary classrooms
  Teen signer using PSE
  Teen signer using ASL

There are two sets of materials for each classroom setting and language, Form A and Form B. This means that if you want to test using the Elementary PSE materials, you have two choices – you select one of two classroom tapes and one of two student tapes.

Interpreting Sign Language to Spoken English

The sign-to-voice stimulus tapes show a student or a teenager who communicates mostly using the target sign language or system. It is rare that a student uses a textbook definition of a specific language. Rather all of the students produce language that is more appropriately described as a mixture of languages. For example, the students who are signing PSE will also be seen producing utterances that are more ASL-like, as well as utterances that include lexical borrowing from MCE.

The students were interviewed using a technique that maximizes complex responses and language. The edited stimulus videotapes contain the examiner's questions.

Interpreters are given a warm-up period, during which they are allowed to watch the student signing, without interpreting. Interpreters hear questions presented to the student in spoken English. They do not need to interpret these questions.

The test videotape signals the interpreter to begin interpreting. The interpreter watches the interview with the student and interprets the student’s responses into spoken English. The interpreter’s spoken interpretation is videotaped.

Like the language of all students, the language of the students in the tapes has errors in grammar and pronunciation, disorganization in communication and discourse cohesion, fingerspelling that is both precise and imprecise, and references to people and places that are not properly identified. The interviewer is unknown to the student, so theoretically the student should use properly introduced referents. However, like many children, especially those who are elementary-aged, they don't always do so. The language produced by these students reflects what educational interpreters encounter daily.

Spoken English to Sign Language Skills

There are two sets of classroom tapes: elementary and secondary. The elementary stimulus tapes include five different, authentic classrooms, ranging from 1st to 6th grade. All classroom content is challenging, containing lessons in science, reading, geography, or other complex subjects. The classroom tapes reflect typical classrooms in that all lessons are interactive, containing teacher and student dialogue, both requiring interpretation. There are frequent interchanges that question, discipline, scold, praise, warn, and challenge, in addition to the traditional exchange of information.

The secondary classroom tapes contain two classroom settings, representing a middle school and high school setting. As with the elementary classrooms, there are frequent student - teacher exchanges as well a variety of communication intentions such as information sharing, disciplining, and encouraging students.

The classroom tapes were selected to provide opportunities for a variety of discourse structures, spatial mapping, complex grammar, fingerspelling, and the use of numbers. The teacher's talk includes many typical aspects of classroom discourse. Teachers in the videotapes often backtrack in their discourse, repair their own statements, self-reflect, and give clues about what may be tested in the future.

In the warm-up room, prior to watching and interpreting the classroom tape, interpreters are given a set of lesson plans that detail what they will interpret. These plans contain the goals and objectives of each lesson as well as key vocabulary. Testing sites are also permitted to provide an English dictionary, paper and pencils; for use during the warm-up period only.

The interpreter is then videotaped interpreting this classroom tape.

The Evaluation Team

Both videotaped interpretations are evaluated at the EIPA Diagnostic Center at Boys Town National Research Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska. A team of three professionals, specially trained in administering the EIPA, evaluates the interpreting samples. At least one member of the team must be deaf. All raters are fluent in the language that is being assessed. All undergo assessment training and rater monitoring to insure that results are accurate.