Minnesota's educational interpreting law was passed in 1994. It took close to ten years for it to be fully implemented. If the goal of the law was to get certified interpreters into the classroom, it has been a success. When the bill first passed, there were only four certified interpreters working in educational settings; now there are over 300.
What is current law (external link) in Minnesota? Currently ACCI/NAD and RID national certifications (external link) are accepted by the state as proof of qualifications to interpret effectively. In order to work in a school district, a pre-certified interpreter has two years to obtain certification after s/he graduates from an Interpreter Training Program (ITP). The school district assists by providing a mentor who works with the provisional interpreter. Together, they develop an educational plan that will help the provisional interpreter to become certified within the two year time frame. A one time extension is included in the law. This one time extension gives more time to the interpreter to become certified due to extraordinary circumstances.
What's happening on a national level?
The Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment (EIPA) has been developed to evaluate the interpreting skills of interpreters working with deaf children. The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) recognized the EIPA test as a psychometrically valid and reliable test and entered into partnership with the EIPA in 2005. RID is moving towards acceptance of those educational interpreters who pass the EIPA at a level that is in keeping with the measurement levels of their current tests.
Past and present national certification exams measure interpreting skills for sign language interpreters. As the EIPA is accepted by the RID, it is now accepted in Minnesota. More information about the EIPA can be found at Classroom Interpreting (external link). Find test dates at Classroom Interpreting Testing Centers (external link). The EIPA Application (external link) is also available for your convenience.
What MNCDHH is doing
The MNCDHH Education Committee has been discussing the EIPA for years. In 2003, Brenda Schick, co-creator of the EIPA presented information to interpreters, administrators, teachers and members of the Deaf community at the invitation of MNCDHH and the Minnesota Department of Education. MNCDHH has been meeting with the Minnesota Administrators for Special Education and the Minnesota Department of Education to discuss whether the EIPA should be accepted by Minnesota as a test for educational interpreters.
On May 19, 2015, Brenda Cassellius, Ed.D, the Commissioner from the Minnesota Department of Education, released a memo explaining that there are performance issues experienced by provisionally certified interpreters who have not yet met the 4.0 score standard. Due to a high demand for educational interpreters and to secure more time to assist educational interpreters with improving their skills, the Commissioner is temporarily accepting a 3.5-3.9 EIPA score while the candidates continue to improve to the 4.0 standard.
Questions that MNCDHH is discussing:
- Should we continue to accept national certifications for educational interpreters?
- Should we use the EIPA exclusively and grandfather/grandmother in nationally certified interpreters?
- Now that EIPA has been accepted by RID, should interpreter training programs start teaching a separate adult track that would lead to national certification and one that is specifically designed for children and teens that would lead to EIPA certification?
We (MNCDHH) are in the process of taking a position: help us to decide.
Contact us and share your opinion. Please let us know if you are a student, administrator, interpreter, educational interpreter, academician, or member of the community (deaf, hard of hearing, deafblind, hearing) or any combination. Thanks!
The following websites have resources for interpreters including test preparation, CEU/skill development opportunities, loan materials, etc.
National Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (external link)
Minnesota Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (external link)
Minnesota Department of Human Services (external link)
CATIE Center (external link)