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Special Education

Administrative Advisory SPED 2014-1

Demonstration of performance skills of educational interpreters

To:Educational Interpreters for Students Who Are Deaf or Hard Of Hearing, School Districts, Approved Private Special Education Schools, and Collaborative Programs
From:Heidi Reed, Commissioner, MA Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Marcia Mittnacht, State Director for Special Education, MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Date:March 5, 2014

The Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH) and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) have collaborated to provide this guidance to educational interpreters for public school students who are Deaf or hard of hearing, and to the school districts (including charter schools), approved private special education programs, and collaborative programs1 that employ such interpreters. We urge all to whom this advisory is addressed to review carefully the time-sensitive information provided in it, which will affect the ability of educational interpreters to be registered with MCDHH and to provide educational interpreting services to public school students in the near future.

This advisory will address:

  1. Current requirements
  2. Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment (EIPA) skill demonstration
  3. Educational Interpreters — New Registrants — Transition Period

1. Current Requirements

Since July 2007,2 any staff members providing educational interpreting for public school students who are Deaf or hard of hearing must be registered through the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH). These individuals include staff members who are identified as educational interpreters, oral transliterators, or others who fulfill the role of educational interpreter, but are not identified as such.3 Educational Interpreter Registration.

To date, almost 200 individuals have registered with MCDHH as interpreters in Massachusetts schools. Districts obtain evidence of registration directly from educational interpreters to document compliance with 603 CMR 28.02(18), or from the registry.

Registration is only a first step. Verification of requisite skills is the next step. The remainder of this advisory addresses other requirements that educational interpreters must now meet if they wish to provide educational interpreter services in districts.

Interpreters who work as oral transliterators should register and demonstrate skill level by providing evidence of the Oral Transliteration Certificate (OTC) through the national Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID). The OTC uses a pass/fail test. Oral Transliterators will appear on the registry with the code "OTC."

2. Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment (EIPA) skill demonstration

Effective March 17, 2014, MCDHH will begin notifying registrants of the requirement to demonstrate their interpretation skills through taking the Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment tool (EIPA) performance assessment and achieving a score of 3.5 or above. MCDHH will schedule testing with existing registrants, testing will be videotaped in Massachusetts and sent to the EIPA Center in BoysTown, Omaha, Nebraska, for scoring.4 Once tested, registrants can expect to receive score reports in approximately 90 days. MCDHH also will receive a copy of registrants' score reports.

MCDHH will schedule EIPA testing or individuals may use previous EIPA score reports. The national Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) also includes an educational interpreting certification and an Oral Transliteration certification, both of which would be acceptable for Massachusetts registration qualifications. For more information, contact MCDHH at 617-740-1690

Registrants who wish to remain on the registry, but do not demonstrate the required performance level5 will be required to submit a professional development remediation plan to MCDHH within two weeks of receiving their score report and commit to an EIPA retest no later than August 31, 2015. The purpose of the remediation plan is to demonstrate what the registrant will do to improve their interpreting skills before the retest. MCDHH will review the remediation plan and either accept it or require additional actions of the registrant. Assistance in developing a remediation plan can be obtained by contacting the Educational Interpreter Professional Development Consultant for MCDHH; Diane M. Stains, at edu.terp@MassMail.State.MA.US. During a remediation period and until August 31, 2015, the individual may remain on the registry at the discretion of MCDHH and depending upon appropriate participation in agreed upon remediation activities.

Beginning on March 17, 2014 through August 31, 2015, MCDHH will engage in scheduling and facilitating the EIPA testing. MCDHH and DESE have purposefully allowed a transition period for those currently employed educational interpreters to take the EIPA and, if necessary, to address gaps identified in the EIPA through focused professional development, before they need to take a re-test. All educational interpreters on the registry must be tested or re-tested by August 31, 2015, if the registrant is not scheduled for testing or re-testing by August 31, 2015, he/she will be removed from the registry.

Any registrant can request to take the EIPA through MCDHH at any time. When a registrant successfully demonstrates skills at the acceptable level or above, MCDHH will notify the registrant by mail. The asterisk on an individual's registration documents and next to the individual's name on the online registry will reflect that that the registrant has met all requirements. As a courtesy, at the request of the successful registrant, MCDHH will also notify the school at which the registrant is employed.

Those MCDHH registrants who have already demonstrated an acceptable EIPA score on a previous administration of the EIPA test will not be required to do so again as long as the registrant files the score report through the online registry.

Until September 2015, the registry will reflect that some registrants have demonstrated their skills through passing the EIPA and others have not. Districts should begin looking for the differentiation in interpreter's registration documentation and make note of the implications for employment.

Individuals currently registered may voluntarily participate in EIPA testing at any time. MCDHH will contact current registrants who have not participated in testing. MCDHH intends to complete testing performance skills of all registrants by the end of August 2015. Consequently, by September 1, 2015, the Commonwealth will have a good understanding of the performance skills of existing educational interpreters, as well as gaps in skills that will allow us to plan continued effective professional development to address those gaps. During the winter of 2015 the DESE and MCDHH will jointly issue guidance regarding subsequent actions that may be taken to ensure strong performance of educational interpreters for students who are Deaf or hard of hearing.

We recommend that school districts employing educational interpreters for students who are Deaf or hard of hearing join in encouraging their employed interpreters to demonstrate their performance skills through the EIPA as soon as they are able to schedule such testing. We all share in the desire that all students have high quality access to excellent teaching and learning opportunities. Demonstration of skills of interpreters is an important milestone in that process that helps to ensure good quality learning opportunities for our students. Within a year, most educational interpreters should be able to produce registration documentation that establishes they have met the required qualifications. Districts should be anticipating that qualification notice.

3. Educational Interpreters — New Registrants — Transition Period

After March 17, 2014: Individuals wishing to register for the first time as educational interpreters beginning after March 17, 2014, should contact Diane M. Stains at edu.terp@MassMail.State.MA.US to obtain a date for EIPA testing and include the date of the testing on the registration documentation. Educational interpreters receive documentation of registration and should provide this documentation to districts. Districts should retain the documentation as evidence of compliance with 603 CMR 28.02(18). Districts who hire or employ interpreters without evidence of registration will be in violation of 603 CMR 28.02(18). Districts are reminded that they may verify the registration status of an individual at the online registry.

After September 1, 2015, MCDHH and DESE have agreed that demonstration of sign language skills at the 3.5 level on the EIPA or evidence of the Oral Transliteration Certificate (OTC) through the national Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) will become a condition of new or continuing registration. Districts will continue to be expected to only employ registered individuals as educational interpreters. For a ninety day period after September 1, 2015, until all test results are received for individuals tested in July and August, such individuals may remain on the registry until EIPA test reports are received. Therefore, as of January 2016, the only registrants on the registry will be those who have demonstrated ASL skills or oral transliteration skills at the required level.

1 For purposes of this advisory, the term "district" shall refer to school districts (including charter schools), ESE-approved private special education programs, and collaborative programs.

2 In 2011, the policy was incorporated into regulation at section 28.02(18) of the Massachusetts Special Education Regulations, 603 CMR 28.

3 For purposes of this advisory, the term "educational interpreter" shall include any staff member whose function is to providing educational interpreting or oral transliteration services for deaf and hard of hearing individuals, regardless of their title.

4 The cost of taking the EIPA is $310. Individuals will be asked to make such payment to BoysTown.

5 MCDHH will remove individuals from the registry if their score level on the EIPA is 2.0 or lower. Such individuals may engage in remedial activities at their choice, but may not be employed as educational interpreters in schools until such person is able to demonstrate skills on the EIPA at 3.5 or better.

Last Updated: March 5, 2014

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