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The Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment (EIPA) is a tool designed to evaluate the voice-to-sign and sign-to-voice interpreting skills of interpreters who work in the elementary and secondary school classroom setting.
The EIPA evaluates the ability to expressively interpret classroom content and discourse and the ability to receptively interpret student or teen sign language. It is not limited to any one sign language or system. EIPA is used to evaluate interpreters who work with students and teenagers who use predominately American Sign Language (ASL), Manually-Coded English (MCE) and Pidgin Sign English (PSE).
Areas the EIPA Does and Does Not Evaluate
Some professional skills can only be assessed by administrators/educators in the school district. The EIPA does not assess the interpreter’s performance as a member of the professional team, how well the interpreter performs as a professional (i.e., follows professional guidelines), or how well the interpreter completes duties other than interpreting, such as tutoring and aiding.
History of EIPA
Before the early 1990s, the only available methods for evaluating the skills of interpreters were designed to assess skills in individuals who interpreted for adults, not students. Yet, there are many differences between interpreting for an adult and interpreting for a student in the school setting. For example, interpreting interaction in the classroom is different than interpreting a lecture by an adult or a conversation between two adults.
For years, experts have stressed that in order to provide deaf students access to education that was equal to that of their hearing classmates, it is essential for classroom interpreters to possess competent interpretation skills. School districts wanting to ensure that educational interpreters were qualified became frustrated with the evaluation options available.
In 1991, Boys Town National Research Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska responded by designing and piloting the EIPA. Today, over half of all states use EIPA to determine minimal competency requirements for educational interpreters. In these states the EIPA is used for certification or licensure purposes. Other states have used the EIPA for purposes of assessment and training.