Classroom Interpreters - Interpreters and Children - Evaluating an Interpreted Education
Evaluating the skills of the educational interpreter
Many states and school districts have interpreted No Child Left Behind and IDEA 04 to mean that they are responsible for ensuring that educational interpreters are highly qualified. Unfortunately there are many educational interpreters who do not have adequate skills to provide access to the classroom. A qualified educational interpreter must possess a wide variety of skills, which can be categorized into several domains.
- English and sign language skills: Good language skills in both languages are essential.
- Interpreting skills: It is best practice to require an external evaluation of interpreting skills, such as the EIPA or RID certification. For the most part, schools should not try to assess interpreting skills themselves.
- Professional practice skills: Educational interpreters, like all professionals who work in the schools, must understand professional conduct within an educational setting. Schools should evaluate the professional skills of educational interpreters much like they would evaluate any team member.
- Knowledge of the content related to educational interpreting: Most interpreters have not graduated from a program that specializes in educational interpreting. There is a large amount of content information related to providing interpreting services in a K-12 setting. The EIPA Written Test (http://classroominterpreting.org/EIPA/standards/index.asp) is a test that assesses an individual’s understanding of important information and concepts, such as information about language development, education, the IEP, child development, and other topics.
- Many states have established minimum standards for interpreting skills for educational interpreters. In most cases, states have not established standards for professional skills, content knowledge, and the ability to function as a member of a team.