Defenders of Certification: Sign Language Interpreters Question “Enhanced” RID NIC Test

May 15, 2012

The advent of the tiered NIC test brought with it a host of questions and concerns among members of RID. Dennis Cokely shares a personal letter sent to the RID Board and outlines his requests for explanation regarding the format and procedures of the current certification process.

At this point in our history, the NIC assessment is the foundation for determining who is “one of us” and, as such, certified members of RID should be the defenders of the certification process. However, the fact that certified RID members are unsure of the validity of the current NIC assessment is unacceptable. I believe that the NIC Task Force and the Board of Directors have implemented changes to the RID assessment process the validity of which has not all been transparent to the certified membership. And so, instead of being defenders of the process, we find ourselves in the position of questioning, challenging and/or belittling the recent RID assessments procedures.

My Letter

On March 18,2012, I sent an email letter to each member of the RID Board of Directors in which I raised a number of questions regarding the new “enhancements” to the NIC test. That letter is reprinted below.

Before reading the letter, it is important to me that you understand the spirit in which that letter was sent.

My intent in sending the letter was neither to create or enflame divisiveness within RID nor was it to attack the current leadership of the RID. Rather it was a request that the Board provide the information necessary so that the RID membership, especially the certified membership, could feel confident and secure in the knowledge that the “enhanced NIC” was indeed valid and reliable; information that was not made available for the previous iteration of the NIC.

Until the day when RID (and we are RID) has a transparently valid and reliable certification process that determines who will be “one of us”, we will always have division and animus (parenthetically, I believe this can only be avoided if we, RID, decide to divest ourselves of the assessment process). My letter was sent to the Board requesting that all the information and documentation that provided the psychometric basis for the “enhanced NIC” be made available to all of the members. The Board has committed to releasing a report that would address the questions I raised.

RID Response

On April 22 I received an email from the RID President that stated, in part: “…the board of directors and national office staff agree the comprehensive report would be shared with the entire membership.  Therefore, this will take some time and resources to complete and request your patience and continued support to allow us the time to complete this comprehensive report. In fact, the work has been underway since the receipt of your letter.”

To be sure, it is unclear to me why the answers to the questions I raised should “…take some time and resources to complete.” After all the questions I raise are the essential questions one must ask and the evidence one must have in advance of implementing such a radically new assessment approach. The information should be readily available; if it has to be created in response to the questions I raise, there are even more serious questions about the process by which this iteration of the NIC was developed and implemented. Nevertheless, I applaud the fact that the RID Board will share full information regarding the new NIC with the membership. Hopefully that report will be issued in a timely manner and, in my opinion, it certainly must happen in advance of the regional conferences.

Reactions — Keep Them in Check

Given all of this, I trust you will read the following letter in the spirit in which it was intended. I sincerely hope that any reaction you may have will be held in check until we all receive the “comprehensive report” from the Board. I believe that any action prior to receipt of the “comprehensive report” would be premature and uniformed.

Letter Reprint

Members of the Board of Directors
Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf

333 Commerce Street
Alexandria, VA 22314 
 

March 18, 2012

To Members of the Board,

I am writing this letter to the Board, one of the very few I have written since 1972, as a concerned and dedicated member of RID for over forty years and as a Past President of RID. Specifically, I am extremely concerned about the new “enhancements” to the NIC test. I think it goes without saying that the last iteration of the NIC was significantly flawed. Claiming, as we did, (lacking both the sophistication and the empirical data) that a three-tiered certification based on a single evaluation test was valid and defensible, was clearly shown to be a serious mistake (one which we made earlier in our first effort at testing – CI/CT/CSC). With this latest unsubstantiated testing attempt, not only did we damage the credibility of the NIC and the RID itself in the minds of many RID members but perhaps more importantly in the minds of many Deaf people. Both interpreters and Deaf people saw that the test results and tiered certifications awarded often did not match the reality experienced by the “eyes on the street”.

I believe that the lesson that must be learned here is clear — we should definitely not advance an approach to testing that is not directly supported by empirical data on sign language interpretation and that we must make that empirical data clearly and widely known to interpreters and Deaf people.

Make no mistake, I applaud some of the changes to the NIC, specifically uploading a candidate’s video data to a secure server and having those video data available to be viewed by multiple raters. Unfortunately I believe we have made the same fatal mistake – lack of empirical data – with the newest iteration of the NIC as we made with the last iteration and as we made in 1972. Unless there is evidence that has not been made publically available, I believe that the current NIC testing approach lacks face validity — it does not look like what interpreters regularly do. Perhaps better stated, I believe the current test cannot claim to validly certify a candidate’s ability to interpret in a way that reflects real world practice. Certainly there is nothing in the research literature relevant to sign language interpreters of which I am aware that would support the current testing approach. I make the following statements and raise the following questions and concerns based on the new Candidate Handbook 2011 and on conversations with several candidates who have taken the current NIC.

1. It appears that someone predetermined that the test should last only an hour and then the resultant math determined that each of the two ethical and five performance scenarios would last only 4 minutes. If true, RID members need a more thorough explanation of why time and a simple mathematical formula should be the primary drivers behind the format of the certification test; if this is not true, then a clear explanation should be provided for how the current 4-minute per vignette test segmentation was determined.

2. I agree that that it may be possible to make a marginally valid, albeit shallow, determination of one’s approach to ethical decision-making and one’s knowledge of the Code of Professional Conduct from two 4-minute vignettes. However, one would hope that the vignettes are sufficiently complex that they will elicit higher levels of ethical thinking than mere regurgitation of the Code of Professional Conduct. A description of the guiding principles used to develop and/or select the ethical vignettes must be provided to the RID membership. Note I am not asking for the rating rubrics (I agree that teaching to the rubrics was a significant issue in the last iteration), I am simply asking that an explanation for the process/principles used in the selection of and/or development of the vignettes be made known to the membership.

3. I am aware of no research that provides evidence that a 4-minute sample of a piece of interpretation is sufficient to make a determination of overall interpretation competence. What the research does show is that during the first five minutes of a twenty minute monologue an interpreter’s work is often “less challenging” because it is the most predictable – introductions, niceties, setting an overall tone for a talk or meeting, etc. This is also true of the last five minutes of an interpreter’s work – summaries, next steps, closings, etc. Consequently, if all of the five performance vignettes were from the first five minutes of interactions, we would only be sampling and rating the “less challenging” parts of interactions and thus would not be presented with a true and valid representative sample of a candidate’s overall interpreting proficiency. I might agree that if we had five 20-minute samples of an interpreter’s work and we wished to select 4-minute samples from each 20-minute sample (some from the beginning, some from the middle and some from the end) then perhaps we might have a more thorough and more time efficient way of rating an interpreter’s work. But what we have here with the current NIC is clearly not 4-minute samples from longer samples of work. A full explanation of the empirical justification for this 4-minute sampling approach must be provided to the membership.

4. According to the Candidate Handbook, however, some of the vignettes will require that the candidate begin interpreting in the middle portions of interactions after providing the candidate with only a written synopsis of what has transpired up to that point in the interaction. Here again, I contend there is no empirical data that can justify this as a valid approach to obtaining a true and valid sample of a candidate’s overall interpreting competence. As any experienced interpreter knows, by the mid-point of any interpreted interaction the interpreter has developed some content background information (which I presume the NIC proposes to present in printed form). But more importantly the interpreter has a sense of communicative preferences, interactional rhythm, signing style, accents, spoken/signing speeds, prosodic features, etc. None of this can be presented in printed form in any manner that assists the candidate nor can it be presented in a manner that validly replicates what happens in real life.

On this basis alone, I would contend that this 4-minute assessment approach does not provide the essential cognitive, discourse or linguistic tools/knowledge that are available and that unfold in “real life” situations. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, by the halfway point in any interaction the interpreter has acquired an “interactional schema”. As any experienced interpreter knows, this relates directly to critical areas such as over-arching goals, what counts as success and the overall interactional rhythm and flow. Absolutely none of this is accessible to a candidate suddenly instructed to begin in the middle of an interaction for which only written background content information has been provided. Of necessity, the written background will be about content, but none of this is what is most important to interpreters. A clear explanation of the rationale and justification for placing candidates at such an interpreting disadvantage must be provided to the membership.

5) Given that each performance vignette provides only 4 minutes of a candidate’s work, it would appear that we, as an organization, are no longer concerned about the ability to sustain quality of work during an interpreted interaction. For the past forty years the RID evaluations have contained interactions (monologues and/or dialogues) that have lasted 15-20 minutes in length. This was essentially due to the fact that this most closely reflected the real world work and experience of interpreters and then raters could sample within interactions, not across what are essentially 4-minute, flawed interactions. A detailed explanation of the rational for, and empirical support for this decision and this deviation from forty years experience is also needed by the membership.

6. Given that each performance vignette provides only 4 minutes of a candidate’s work, it would appear that we, as an organization, are no longer interested in the ability to produce work of sustained quality over time. Clearly, a 4-minute text simply does not allow time for the candidate to demonstrate or time for the rater to assess meaning sustained over time. The rater has no opportunity to assess features such as consistent use of grammatical features (manual and non-manual), consistent use of space, consistent use of deitic markers, etc. Simply put, a 4-minute sample simply does not provide sufficient opportunity to demonstrate a candidate’s ability to sustain quality work over time. If there is evidence that supports the claim that a 4-miute sample can validly and reliably assess a candidate’s ability to assess sustained quality over time, then it must be made known to the membership.

7. With a 4-miute segment to assess, the question must be asked “What are the raters looking for?”. It is clear that there is a new rating paradigm (pass/marginal pass, fail/marginal fail) and one could make a solid case for this. Certainly raters for the signed portions should be looking for grammatical features such as agreement, consistent use of “nonce signs” (signs established for this situation only), the use of coordinated and reflexive space, etc. But it is unclear what raters would be asked to assess in a 4-minute sample of work. Certainly raters are unable to assess the full range of linguistic competencies that interpreters must posses in order to able to interpret (if there evidence to support this it must be made public).  What are the various English and ASL grammatical and semantic features in vignettes that raters will be assessing and do these five 4-minute vignettes provide sufficient linguistics and discourse variation to elicit an appropriate range of English and ASL grammatical and semantic features?

8. As was true with the last iteration of the NIC we offer the candidate no opportunity to demonstrate the exercise of discretion. This clearly begs the question of whether there is any research that demonstrates that the five performance vignettes somehow represent “seminal” vignettes, i.e. vignettes for which no candidate would ever deem that he or she was an unsuitable fit. Clearly the message sent to candidates taking the NIC and to interpreters in general that one “must interpret everything presented to them” stands in stark contrast to our long held organizational belief that discretion in accepting assignments is critical. Since using discretion in selecting assignments is one of the core operating principles of our long-standing Code, the rationale for adopting an “all or nothing” approach must be made clear to the membership.

9. Virtually all of the candidate’s with whom I have spoken have the same reaction and response to the 4-minute performance vignettes. They state “They [the vignettes] were too short”; “I was just getting warmed up”; “I didn’t have the right information to start in the middle [of a vignette]”; “I don’t think it was a fair sample of my work”; “I needed more time to get over my nerves”; “This isn’t what I do everyday”. These comments are, to me as I hope they are to you, extremely troubling. Even if we assume there is a valid and reliable empirical basis for the “4-minute vignette” approach, the experience of the candidates is quite at odds with that basis. The danger here is that the candidates will, rightly or wrongly, begin to spread these perceptions to certified and not-yet certified interpreters. The end result will be that we return to the set of circumstances that resulted in abandoning the former iteration of the NIC – acting in the absence of empirical data to guide our decision-making. A clear, empirically supported explanation of why the current NIC assessment is valid and can be reliably assessed by raters must be provided to the membership.

The issue of how and the process by which we determine who will be viewed “as one of us” (i.e. who is certified) is of grave concern to many in the membership. As you should well know, it has clearly created some very, very deep rifts within the organization. So deep are the rifts that there is on-going discussion of creating an alternate organization. Yet, we in RID continue to move forward without the necessary empirical support we need to offer a credible approach to the testing process. The “alphabet soup” of certification that we have produced sadly moves us closer and closer to being quite laughable in the eyes of those who view professional organizations as knowing clearly how to determine who will be viewed as “one of us”.

In an ideal world, we would out-source the testing process so that RID could be the “assessment watch-dog” and thus RID could avoid any appearance of conflict of interest. Lacking that possibility at the present time, I believe that the Board should muster the political and moral will to insist on a truly valid and reliable certification test, accepted by the certified members. Then the Board should declare a phased in process by which ALL former certificates (save SC:L and CDI) would be declared invalid and no longer recognized. A staggered timeline would be put in place by which ALL those holding any certificate prior to the valid and reliable test would have to be retested and the “alphabet soup” would eventually no longer exist.

But we are where we are and that is that we have the current iteration of the NIC.

On behalf of the membership and all those who have served in positions of leadership, I am asking for a much greater level of transparency regarding the crafting of the current iteration of the NIC. If there is research data to support the decisions underlying the format of this iteration of the NIC those data must be made very public. I, for one, need to see the consultant’s report on why they believe this approach/format is valid and reliable before I can support this approach. I know that many of my colleagues, who are both members and organizational leaders, feel the same way.

Please know that I raise these questions and ask for this unprecedented level of public transparency in the best interests of RID the organization, of RID members and of Deaf people. I am happy to discuss any of these questions and concerns with the Board, individual or collectively, and/or the psychometric consultants hired to oversee the new NIC test.

Please let me know if you have any questions or need further clarification on any of the issues/questions raised. I eagerly await and expect your response to the questions and issues I have raised in this letter in a timely manner.

Sincerely
 
 
Dennis Cokely
Director, American Sign Language Program
Director, World Languages Center
Chair, Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures

 

Overall Frame

We should definitely not advance an approach to testing that is not directly supported by empirical data on sign language interpretation and that we must make those empirical data clearly and widely known to interpreters and Deaf people

The Questions that Need Answers

1. RID members need a more thorough explanation of why time and a simple mathematical formula should be the primary drivers behind the format of the certification test; if this is not true, then a clear explanation should be provided for how the current 4-minute per vignette test segmentation was determined.

2. An explanation for the process/principles used in the selection of and/or development of the vignettes be made known to the membership.

3. A full explanation of the empirical justification for this 4-minute approach must be provided to the membership.

4. A clear explanation of the rationale and justification for placing candidates at such an interpreting disadvantage must be provided to the membership.

5. A detailed explanation of the rational for, and empirical support for this decision and this deviation from forty years experience is also needed by the membership.

6. If there is evidence that supports the claim that a 4-miute sample can validly and reliably assess a candidate’s ability to assess sustained quality over time, then it must be made known to the membership.

7. What are the various English and ASL grammatical and semantic features in vignettes that raters will be assessing and do these five 4-minute vignettes provide sufficient linguistic and discourse variation to elicit an appropriate range of English and ASL grammatical and semantic features?

8. Since using discretion in selecting assignments is one of the core operating principles of our long-standing Code, the rationale for adopting an “all or nothing” approach must be made clear to the membership.

9. A clear, empirically supported explanation of why the current NIC assessment is valid and can be reliably assessed by raters must be provided to the membership.

 

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138 Comments on "Defenders of Certification: Sign Language Interpreters Question “Enhanced” RID NIC Test"

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Member
formerlycertified
I was certified for 15 years with a CI/CT and then let them go. When I decided to give certification another chance, I had to take the revised NIC and failed. My results showed that my interpreting was good but I was poor in following test directions which led to an overall fail. I am not comfortable with a system like this. I do not feel that the world of interpreting ethics has changed so much that my failure was due to content. Advice given to me by others who have experienced the same kind of result has been to… Read more »
Member
Having taken the Enhanced NIC…and reading the NIC Handbook… DON’T waste your money on these workshops. For one thing, the NIC Enhanced results weren’t released for the first tests until late May. I know, I took it in December. I agree with Dennis completely. When I contacted RID about vignette timing being an issue, I was given the response of “nobody has complained about the testing process.” Best advice, given the NIC Handbook comments, DON’T take those workshops. None of them have enve taken & passed the new test. Those workshops are for the old testing rubric and the “failure… Read more »
Member
This is why I am having so much trouble committing to taking the test. I keep hearing about highly skilled interpreters failing and others with marginal skills getting “master” (when that was an option). I am not a terribly good test taker. I can’t seem to wrap my head around how to “correctly” answer an ethics question. I also agree that 4 minutes does not seem to be a reasonable measure of skills. I notice whenever I start my day, I need some warm up before things really get flowing. Overall concepts take time to develop as well. I’m so… Read more »
Dennis Cokely
Member
Jennifer (and formerlycertified) Your posts also bring up a very important issue about “point-in-time” testing. There is an assumption in all such tests that your performance on that “point-in-time” test reflects your regular and usual work. Whether it actually does or not is really only known to the candidate. It is already difficult enough to produce our “usual and regular” work under the artificial testing conditions; at least, up until now the texts were were asked to interpret were long enough that one could get into a rhythm which increases the likelihood that we will produce our “usual and regular”… Read more »
Member

Dennis,
I need to contact you in a more private forum.
Is there an email address or phone number?

I found one HUGE factor in this test that is designed to fail even some of the best interpreters…and it’s not fair. I didn’t realize it until I retook this test. If I had noticed it on the first time around, I would have never paid for another attempt because I know it’s a trap.

Member

Laura may I speak to you also in private? I share the similar concerns… Thank you. Diandria.zeigler@gmail.com

Member

Laura,
If there is a trap in the test can you in any way generallly prepare us for it??? I have to take the test in Jan 2012 and the RID office gives very little feedback on preparation….

Member

Laura and Di:

Is there any way you can share these concerns on this public forum? Why or why not?
I feel that, unless you are sharing content, it should be something we all can discuss here; your concerns are probably commonly shared by many of us.

Member
DualAdvancedTerp
I wonder why someone who had been formally certified.. that had let it lapse.. and had not been interpreting for some time.. thinks its wrong that they fail a professional interpreting test. .. I know many interpreters that if they took the test again would fail. our standards are being raised.. Deaf consumers are expecting higher quality and better skills. being good at taking tests should not factor in here. its about your skill. i also feel people did not understand the meaning of the Master certification. this meant they had above average skills.. and had the ability to think… Read more »
Dennis Cokely
Member
Thanks for the post. You state “being good at taking tests should not factor in here. its about your skill.” Your assumption here is that any test we might use is indeed an accurate reflection of one’s skill. But by any reasonable standard and any informed understanding of what interpreters actually do, it is, in my opinion, extremely unlikely that one can make the case that the current iteration of the NIC provides an accurate and fair sample of one’s skill. I believe that the basic issue is that the current test does not reflect what interpreters regularly do. Regarding… Read more »
Member
Dear DualAdvancedTerp… Having taken the test, I know that even some of the highest skilled interpreters would have a hard time passing. With that said, I do acknowledge that there are interpreters out there that hold older certifications that make you wonder if they still cary a copy of The Joy of Signing to their assignments. In such a flawed system, how can we be preventing SKILLED interpreters and yet allowing these people to keep their Certified status? I have been in the Deaf community for 13 years. My own husband is deaf. When I say that this test is… Read more »
Member
Hello Mr. Cokely and all~ I appreciate the time and thought and your obvious expertise invested in this post. I have experience as a rater for the NIC (when it was first initiated for membership testing). I found my job to be very challenging in consistently rating candidates. There was a significant change over time (several years) in which the test became more widely understood and there were new workshops that seems to very directly “teach to the test” in ways that seemed to me to be contrary to the training I had received as a rater. The items that… Read more »
Dennis Cokely
Member
Shelly Thanks for the post. I agree with you that for the last iteration of the NIC “teaching to the test” was present at a level we have never before experienced. Ironically, there are many who say that in terms of the actual test materials RID/we “got it right”. Unfortunately, in what may have been a response to “teaching to the test” , we have discarded the very stimulus materials that many feel were quite appropriate and valid. Some have suggested that the same materials, absent the tiered certifications, would have been a better response. I think that your suggestion… Read more »
Member

Hello again~
One other thought:
I have always been uneasy with the combining of the ethical evaluation with the skills portion. I believe the ethical evaluation should be separate from the interpreting skills evaluation.

Dennis Cokely
Member
Shelly – It might be worth looking at how the NIH (National Institute of Health) certifies that those working on grants are aware of the regulations regarding the treatment of human subjects. They have a combination instructional/assessment website where you must read certain documents and then respond to questions. Since it is all automated, it may be much more cost effective and could be done as the written portion is done or the written portion could be expanded to include an ethical portion. RID/we could require that a candidate submit a certificate in order to apply for the performance portion… Read more »
Member

Hi Shelly –

I agree with you that combining “Interview” – testing ethical knowledge with “Performance” – the actual work itself – is unsuitable. I have heard of people passing one and not the other. Since the written is separated, the NIC should really consist of three separate exams: written, ethical, and performance.

Member

A thousand thank you’s, for stating so eloquently what many of us feel.

I can honestly say I’m only a member because I have to be. I hope your letter brings change.

Dennis Cokely
Member

JS

Thanks for the kind words. I hope the day comes quickly when you honestly say you are a member because you want to!! That will mean that things within the field and within the organization have altered course for the better!

dennis

Member

Very well written article and letter. The one thing I take issue with is retesting every interpreter. This is fiscally impossible for some, and impractical for many.

Dennis Cokely
Member
Lynetta Thanks for the post. I agree that it would be an enormous undertaking. IF RID/we have a truly psychometrically sound assessment and IF we believe that past iterations of the NIC have not been shown to be psychometrically sound and IF RID/we can muster the will (lots of ifs there) then I think that in good conscience we owe it to Deaf people and to ourselves to be able to say with certainty “Here is the baseline – anyone holding certification as of XXX date is really “one of us”. If we don’t do this then there will always… Read more »
bcolonomos
Member
Dear Readers, As someone who has been a member of RID for 40 years, I have invested a lot of time and energy serving on committees and task forces. I have been committed to not only helping interpreters increase their competence in order to improve the quality of service, I also devote my resources to elevating our field and supporting the efforts of Deaf Interpreters to work. We are indeed a young community going through growing pains,and that means we must learn from our errors in judgement and in practice. Although their are many interpreters I view as ‘professionals’, it… Read more »
Dennis Cokely
Member
Betty Thanks for the post. I believe you are entirely correct when you say that in our field we often take things too personally. I think that we’ve done a fairly good job in IEP programs and in mentoring relationships with novice and working interpreters to separate one’s work from oneself. This allows us to discuss the work without the producer of the work taking it personally. I think we need to do the same thing organizationally, whether at the local or national level. I also agree that we need more direct communication — ironic, isn’t it, that for a… Read more »
Member

Your letter addresses many concerns I and others have with all the rapid changes taking placed… My only thoughts are how this impacts the Band of 34. Of all the candidates facing the exam – this group isthe ones being over- looked and forgotten.

Member
formerlycertified

Who are they?

Dennis Cokely
Member

Venetia

Can you expand more on “the band of 34”?

thanks

dennis

Member

Hi Dennis,

Great article by the way. The band of 34 are the 34 who were forced to pay for and take the test again because of Guy Motley. Most of these people were my friends. They should have provided a re-test for free.

Hope this helped,

Dana

Member
I am one of the Band of 34. Mr Guy Motley embezzled money, and as a result “compromised” the test. It’s not my fault RID didn’t do a background check on Motley. I called RID a myriad of times, but kept getting answers that didn’t match up with other some of the other 34. First they had our tapes. Then they told another they had the tapes, but couldn’t release them. Then they told another Bof34 that the tapes were destroyed. Excuse me? In the final analysis RID hired a felon. I now have to re-take- not the old exam… Read more »
Dennis Cokely
Member

Thanks for your post. Was a reason given for the strange and questionable decision to destroy the tapes? Not releasing them to you may be understandable, but assigning them to different raters seems the appropriate thing to do.

Sorry you and the other 33 had to go through this experience.

Member

Well, they told me they had the tapes but couldn’t release them. They told someone else that the tapes were destroyed. So, several of us who’ve been in contact with them were getting conflicting stories.

Eventually, one of the 34 had a lawyer contact RID. Ironically enough, we all got our re-rated scores a week later. What’s even more interesting, three of the 34 have the exact same scores!

Just a few of the many lies and inconsistencies that have been littered throughout this journey.

Member
Sandra Bartiromo
I also want to review the written portion of the test. My colleagues teach to the test and feel their students must have in depth linguistic knowledge prior to ever having time on task experience. Also, how do you answer ethical questions if your frame of reference comes from text book scenarios in a false setting, the classroom. I also think RID needs to rethink the 2012 BA requirement. BA requirement is necessary but the timeline is too short. Perhaps a certificate with a BA and a certificate without a BA. Similar to the nursing field, an LVN and a… Read more »
Dennis Cokely
Member

Sandra

Thanks for your post. A review of the written test may be in order. However, I would want to do this only after we have tackled the performance portion and, I would suggest, the question of whether (if we have a psychometrically sound assessment) we require re-testing.

Your idea of a two tiered certificate is an interesting one. Certainly there would have to be clearly delineated pay differences. So I wonder what workplace implications this might have and how this might impact hiring decisions.

thanks again

dennis

Member

I agree with Dr. Cokely’s concerns. As an interpreter educator I have the same questions about the current testing process.

I would add that if RID were to move to a single credential as Dr. Cokely suggests I would expect that all certified members in good standing would have a chance to take the new test for free so that we will not set a precedent of hitting up established certified interpreters for money every time we decide to change the test.

Dennis Cokely
Member
Roberto – Thanks for the post. My hope would be that if we, indeed, had a psychometrically valid assessment that we wouldn’t have to “change the test” going forward. The important components of the “point-in-time” testing approach that we have adopted for 40 years only has three critical parts – the stimulus material, the rating rubric and the raters. Changing the stimulus material, for example, does not “change the test”; it merely makes a different form of the test. Not unlike Apple which releases minor operating system upgrades (10.3, 10.4, 10.5, etc) as opposed to major upgrades (8.0, 9.0, 10.0,… Read more »
Member
Thank you for the reply Dennis. I guess my comment was based on an inherent fear that whatever comes next would also have to be replaced at some point. I agree that if we were to develop a test that could hold up over time, even with the periodic upgrade of stimulus, then we should all retest. I would be happy to pay the fee for that test. I understand that the cost has to come from somewhere but I would want assurances that this wouldn’t become an every X amount of years thing. (Unless we did want to change… Read more »
Dennis Cokely
Member
Roberto – I would certainly agree that once RID/we had a valid and reliable assessment then we could have a schedule for reviewing stimulus material and rating criteria as working conditions for interpreters changed e.g. if, hypothetically, all interpreters only worked in pst-secondary settings then the stimulus material should reflect that) or as research revealed more about interpreting. But, already having a valid and reliable assessment, we could make changes incrementally and there would be, in my opinion, no need to reassess those who had already having been assessed by a valid and reliable assessment. I would also think that… Read more »
Member
Rachel Rose
Many of the comments already made echo my own opinions that I’ve held over the past several years: the need for transparency, the fact that a leadership position does not mean a person is infallilble and the growing sentiment that RID should not be the only organization available to interpreters. To become qualified to drive a nuclear aircraft carrier in all conditions at sea (calm, choppy, while launching jets, during rescue operations, etc.), I was not recorded performing that task on a simulator. I achieved that qualification by performing required tasks a prescribed number of times and consistently while under… Read more »
Dennis Cokely
Member
Rachel Thanks for the post. I have commented above on the difference between a “point-in-time” assessment approach vs an “assessment-over-time” which you advocate in your post. I agree that the “assessment-over-time” is often a better indicator of a person’s “regular and usual” work, but it is also generally impractical and much more costly (what would it cost you if your driving test was in all conditions and all road types?). We clearly make a tradeoff when we opt for “point-in-time” testing – expediency and efficiency for comprehensiveness and thoroughness. And you are correct when you say that interpreting to a… Read more »
Member
Hello again~ RID is a voting organization. I think the membership can make changes to the existing organization. We are a service profession. The relationships we have with the greater community is valuable. If we are unhappy with the alphabet soup certification status, why would adding a new interpreting organization build greater trust at large in our professional community? Partnering with NAD is smart. Creating a solid certification exam that gives a reliable gauge of skills is smart. Undermining our long standing organization with a rich history would be counterproductive. Improving the current organization through open membership involvement (we have… Read more »
Member

(typo above: are valuable)

Member
Peggy Huber
Thank you, Dennis Cokely for an outstanding and articulate description of the challenges the NIC task force currently faces. However, I wish to point out that some of the concerns I have seen in the article as well as the following comments are inherent in any assessment tool. We must begin with the understanding that it is impossible to devize an assessment which exactly reflects the working condition and yet be psychometrically, economically and practically feasible. From there we can place reasonable parameters on the latter three and compare them with the “real world” conditions we hope to replacate. When… Read more »
Dennis Cokely
Member

Peggy

I fully agree that no test will ever capture all that we do in real life. We are, in “point-in-time” tests trying to get a sample of work that will let us infer real-world work. Always a difficult proposition, to be sure. There are definite compromises that met be made and, as you rightly ask, we need to be aware of the compromises that were made and with which we are asked to live. The stakes are high indeed.

thanks again

dennis

Member

Hello again~
One last comment:

Another skill set that is not evaluated by the current exam process and that is an integral part of successful interpretation is negotiating for meaning.

The ability to interact with the participants in an interpreting exchange, to adjust and find a shared semantic base and the repertoire of strategies an interpreter utilizes to sustain dialogue, establish rapport and resolve miscommunication should be included in a certification assessment.

Dennis Cokely
Member

Shelly –

Thanks for posting again. I don’t think it is a realistic expectation that a “point-in-time” test can ever capture all of the skill-sets that we need to be successful. This is why, I believe, it is so important that we have a clear understanding of what skill-sets are being assessed and what skill-sets are not. Unfortunately, the important skill-set you mention can only be assessed in real life and varies with the individual participants. Even though it is an important skill-set, it is virtually impossible to asses in a standardized fashion.

thanks for the post.

dennis

Member
Hi! Right…not in a standardized video encounter. However, this could be assessed by a live rater in a real-time video interpreting encounter. You could set up a remote video encounter for a 30 minute interaction. Brainstorming ;o) Also, wanted to add as regards the ethical portion: I think having the ethical section (could continue to use current video model for ethical eval) as a pass/fail in conjunction with the written exam is a better approach. Once a candidate has passed the ethical and written exam, then s/he would become a candidate for the performance portion. The performance portion should exclusively… Read more »
Member

I like that! Real-time would be far better.
Great idea.

I also think the ethics and tenet knowledge should be part of the written exam. Leave the performance to actual performance assessment.

….and since I didn’t pass the new enhanced version, my husband wants to know if that’s grounds for divorce. He, and our friends, are all profoundly deaf. lol.

Member
Laura….I don’t have much to add, but your comment made me laugh. While funny, it’s a profound statement as well. We try to personally interview each sign language interpreter wishing to affiliate with our agency. We meet brand new interpreters just out of college, we meet interpreters with multiple certifications, and we meet those who live their lives with deaf families and friends. There are so many layers necessary to create the ideal. The best candidate and the best fit for the job is not always obvious. I too wish the answers to Dennis’s concerns had been closer to the… Read more »
Member
I have a different perspective. Was the explanation about why the test was changed during the forum at the Atlanta conference last July not sufficient? I was in attendance at the forum and I felt the challenges to President Moose and Buck Chaffee of The Caviart Group were quite direct and were met with direct responses. I feel with so much information presented through the RID webpage (http://www.rid.org/NICNews/index.cfm), when Bobbie Beth Scoggins affirmed NAD’s trust and input into the process, when we have a member-driven NIC Task Force since 2009 (http://www.rid.org/aboutRID/leadership/index.cfm/AID/166) making recommendations and driving the process — the argument… Read more »
Dennis Cokely
Member
Lisa – Thanks for the kind words. I, too, was at the meeting in Atlanta and have read the press releases. Nowhere was such a radical departure as 4 minute clips discussed. What was discussed, as I recall, was an acknowledgment that the previous NIC iteration was flawed, the use of uploading and editing videos so they could be viewed by multiple raters and the promise that things would be improved. Neither at Atlanta nor in the press releases were we provided with the data needed for RID/us to state with confidence that we do indeed have a valid and… Read more »
Member
Dear Dennis, As someone else stated, thank you a thousand times for so eloquantly expressing what I have been feeling. You asked what the “Band of 34” is. There are 34 people who received a letter from RID last June stating that their original NIC test “may” have been affected by the fraud committed by Guy Motley, well over a year prior. These people did nothing wrong. They paid their testing fee and went in and took the exam like everyone else. They waited. They recieved their passing results. They celebrated and proudly joined the ranks of certified interpreters. Many… Read more »
Dennis Cokely
Member
T3 Thanks for the post. That the “band of 34” had to be re-tested seems puzzling to me. Weren’t they videotaped? Why can’t their videos be rated by bona fide raters? That, to me, would be the fair and just solution. Is there reason to believe the videos themselves had been altered/compromised? A free re-test should be, in my opinion, the choice of last resort. I would certainly support those failing the “enhanced” NIC making such a request of the Board. I assume someone from the “band of 34” made this request to the Board? If so, I’d be interested… Read more »
Member
Yes, the “Band of 34” was videotaped/recorded onto DVD just as anyone else is who takes the exam. RID claims that their exams along with hundreds of others were sent out to bona fide raters (after the fraud was discovered) to be re-rated, and that those 34 did not “make the cut” in the re-rate. However, when asked to produce said tapes/DVDs, RID told some of the 34 that of their tapes/DVDs were there at the office, while they told others that they had been recorded over or destroyed. And still, re-rated scores were not sent to the 34…just the… Read more »
Member

Thank you for this. I know quite a few of the 34 and they are highly skilled interpreters who have been in the field for a long time. What a tragedy. You worded this beautifully.

Member

Dana,

Should you know of any of the 34 who want to get in touch with others in the Band, please direct them to http://www.bandof34.com

Member
Hi T-3, I was trying to describe to a friend why exactly I felt so awkward during the new test and you described it perfectly: “I had been unexpectedly shoved into a Fun House at a rinky-dink carnival, jostled around from room to room and spit out at the other end. This is intolerable.” I feel like RID tried to take a test that was well over 2 hours long and cram it into one hour. The whole thing felt off and it distracted me. If they want to have 4 minute clips then they should make new video’s that… Read more »
Member
THANK YOU!! The “teaching the test” that happened with the old NIC was straight from the rubric that was provided in the handbook. If there was a problem, it was with the test…or at the very least, the RID endorsement of such workshops. The enhanced test does not give ANY idea of what the rubric looks for, which is too far to the extreme. I was the first to take this test in my state because I didn’t know what to practice. I did not pass. I have no way of knowing if the rater was legit. I also have… Read more »
Dennis Cokely
Member
Laura Thanks for the post. I certainly agree that were RID/we to provide the “scoring rubric” that would clearly lead to “teaching to the test” (isn’t it ironic that one could get CEUs from RID for taking a workshop on how to “beat the RID test”). However, I would argue that RID/we should provide the domains that are being assessed (e.g. we know, from the testing format, that negotiating isn’t a domain that is assessed). Articulating those domains would help to and would require that RID/we provide a clearer idea of what is being assessed and what is not. Those… Read more »
Member
dennis: if you were here ii would kiss you. i took the and test in 2001 and it was a live panel. they were able to see me and how i interacted with them and then the tape was ok. i know its expensive but the test proves nothing. if you ar a good tester great. but that not what interpreting is about. i was one of those lucky 34 and received nic. when i retook the test i failed and was devastated. they are now allowing me to retake the new test. 4 minutes. what can you show in… Read more »
Dennis Cokely
Member

elyse

Thanks for the kind words (and the virtual kiss!). I’m curious – you said you took the test in 2001 before a live panel. That is unusual – can you explain why you had a live panel and how that differed from the video assessment?

take care

dennis

Member
elyse, The live panel you mention, was that for the original NAD test? Which was offered from 1991 until 2001 (?) when, I think it became the AACI for a brief period of time before the combined RID/NAD test, the NIC, was offered. I also tested for the first time under the NAD system in 1998. I received an NAD III (Generalist), which for someone that had only graduated from an IEP 7 months before taking it, seemed completely appropriate to me. I’ve often thought about taking an RID test but to be frank, when I started my career it… Read more »
Member
Austin Beatty
Dr. Cokely, As many others have stated, thank you for your article. I appreciate your thoroughness, and the time you have taken to share your perspectives with the RID Board, as well as the interpreting community at large. Your letter is well-stated, and I -along with many others, I’m sure- am eager for a response. As someone just coming into this field, I have, already, developed my own opinions on this organization of ours. An organization this purports to provide oversight, guidance, and standards for an entire professional body must model stability, consistency, and transparency. Not only is this important… Read more »
Dennis Cokely
Member
Austin Thanks for the post. I have a couple of quick reactions to your post. First, I personally would oppose “grandfathering” (i.e. simply awarding NIC to those holding prior certificates) for two reasons: first, I think there would always be the “they didn’t take the “real” test” mentality continuing a hierarchical model that we have now. Some of us would have actually taken the psychometrically sound assessment and others would not have done so. We could not then present the NIC as a solid guarantor of competence. Second, if we did have a demonstrably psychometrically sound assessment, I would support… Read more »
Member
Tom Satterlee

Dr Cokely,

While at the last national conference in Atlanta there was discussion regarding England’s testing method and how it is not ‘point in time’ testing. I have been intrigued by the idea ever since, has there ever been any research into that and possibly using some of their ideas?

Tom Satterlee

Dennis Cokely
Member

Tom

I was involved in the early stages of England’s assessment approach. It is a portfolio approach that is workable given the size and scale of the interpreting community in England. Unfortunately I don’t believe that it is workable given the size and scale of the interpreting community in the US. Having said that, if RID/we were to develop an “alternate pathway to certification” (with appropriate specifications for who would qualify for the “alternate pathway”) we definitely could borrow some ideas from their approach.

thanks for the post

dennis

Member
Dennis and Tom: I have yet to post a comprehensive note of my views on this whole grand issue, however, this has been one of my main points in my mind from the start. I believe that there has to be a way to use a portfolio style/”over time” evaluation, therefore credentialing interpreters appropriate to their individual skill sets. While we all have many things in common in our work, there are more variables to even count, and therefore I do not believe a standardized test is a reliable way to evaluate our skills in our work. We are to… Read more »
Member
As a seasoned, long-certified interpreter and as an interpreter educator, I am also baffled by this so-called ehanced NIC. I am not new to assessing interpreters, and I am very familiar with Leah’s work. I read her results, and the very items it claims she fell short on are things that I have identified as her strengths. She was one of my more advanced students two years ago, and she has only improved with time and experience. It is frustrating and quite mystifying to see her fail this exam (twice) when I know she is qualified to be working. I… Read more »
Member
debbymartin
I must admit I was amazed that interpreters were going to be evaluated on a 4 minute test. I simply can’t understand how this will work. I agree with the points made by Mr. Cokely. The only thing I disagree with is phasing out all certifications and being re-evaluated. I worked hard and paid a lot for the certifications I have and am very proud of them. I am 54 years old. I have pretty much decided not to take the NIC for various reasons, one of them being my age. If I were younger I think it would make… Read more »
Member
I took the new test the first weekend it was offered, December 4th, 2011, and share the sentiments that have been expressed here. Every time I felt like I was getting into a comfortable place with my product, I was instructed by the video to STOP INTERPRETING. It was very disconcerting. I’ve never taken any of the other tests, so I can’t compare. I also have no idea whether I passed or failed. Nearly six months later, I have no results. I can’t tell you how frustrating it was to receive notice at the end of January that raters hadn’t… Read more »
Member
Sandra Bartiromo
I agree with you Dennis, we are a skills based profession. I will suggest that knowledge is important but skills should be assessed prior to taking the written test. The written test can be retaken up to two times. This is similar to other occupations where retesting is permissible. The notion about grandfathering should also be permissible if CEUs and active interpreting documentation can be supplied at 4 year intervals. If we fashioned ourselves and our organization like other occupations we could stop re inventing the wheel every time. There are plenty of fields that have long time historical acceptance… Read more »
Dennis Cokely
Member

Sandra –

RID/we can be a creative bunch. So I am willing to cede that we may be able to conceive of a plan that would grandfather (and then do away with) all previous certificate holders on a scheduled basis if, and only if, we could ensure that the skill-set originally assessed had either remained intact or had improved. And as part of that plan RID/we would figure out a reasonable schedule/way to be able to reaffirm that we were maintaining our skill-sets.

thanks again

dennis

Member
John Stuckless

Dennis,

Do you think it is possible to have an accurate test that isnt “live”, either in person or via vp/video link, etc.?

Thanks ahead of time,

John Stuckless

Dennis Cokely
Member
John Thanks for the post and interesting question. If RID/we want a standardized assessment (to ensure that everyone who takes the assessment is assessed the same), then the answer is “No”. With a “live” assessment the participants in each interaction will be different (some easier, some harder, some clearer, some not as clear, etc.) so the stimulus material will always be different. If you try to use “live teams” of participants then after the third or fourth time, they are no longer actually naturally – they have memorized/rehearsed the script. (For what it is worth, I differentiate between a test,… Read more »
Member
Dennis Thank you so much for speaking up so eloquently. You articulated many of the concerns I felt but couldn’t find the right words to express clearly. I just took the enhanced NIC in January and am still awaiting results. While I understand the need for expedience, the switch to the new test felt disorganized (i.e. instituting the test before training raters) with a definite lack of information provided to candidates before taking it. With a test that is this important to an individuals ability to earn a living, there should not be any surprise as to the format or… Read more »
Dennis Cokely
Member

Rose

Thanks for the post. Disorganized and unprepared certainly seem to be the themes that describe the implementation of the “enhanced NIC”. We clearly need to expect a much higher level of execution from RID/us. It is precisely because the stakes are so high for so many that we need to insist that things are as transparent as possible. I have confidence that RID/we have the ability to get things right; the question is whether RID/we have the will.

thanks again for the post

dennis

Member
Hi Dennis: Thanks so much for this post. I had been interpreting for decades before deciding to get my NIC–I stopped and started again. I have been diligent about getting back to speed and took a Bootcamp course last fall. However, on the last day of the camp, the NIC handbook was released Dec 1st which as you know completely changed the test and changed everything about how I prepared for both tests. I went on to take the test but I know I didn’t do well (they had’t even hired the judges so am still waiting). Here are a… Read more »
Dennis Cokely
Member
Peg Thanks for the post and for your honesty regarding your experience. I can certainly sense your frustration. While all of your points are well-taken, I am most taken aback at your point #3 regarding the ethical portion. Again, I think RID/we had it right in the last iteration of the NIC (and whether the ethical portion should or should not be part of the performance portion is a question worth considering). In that iteration we asked candidate’s what their thought process was and what factors THEY considered in making decisions. Now we have moved to criticizing the actions and… Read more »
Member
Dennis, Thank you for bringing up this very interesting question: “is it the ability to critique others and recognize appropriate/inappropriate decisions made by others or is it the ability of candidates to reason through difficult ethical decisions?” This shift in the testing of ethical decision making has given me reason to pause. In our profession I already see too much criticism/judgement of others’ work based on a glimpse of only some of the demands with which an interpreters was working. Will this shift in the certification test help to perpetuate this behavior? I truly hope not. A thorough response by… Read more »
Member
Tamara Moxham
As an instructor in an IEP I have come to realize that interpreting to a camera is missing about 70% (in my opinion) of what is happening in real life – the rapport of the consumers with whom we are working. This rapport gives us the ability to makes those constant tiny adjustments that is at the heart and soul of real-world interpreting. The reality is that IEPs and certification testing cannot afford to hire live deaf and hearing people to simulate interpreting situations. While this remains so the real meat of what we are testing for will remain an… Read more »
Dennis Cokely
Member
Tamara Thanks for the post. It is true that RID/we have, historically, focused on the technical side of interpreting and not what my friend and colleague Sharon Neumann Solow calls the “soft skills” of interpreting. The obvious reason is that the “soft skills” will necessarily vary from situation to situation because the participants vary (even if, for example, we are in a post-secondary setting interpreting for the same Deaf students or Deaf instructor – their mood varies from one day to the next or the classroom dynamics vary). So trying to assess the “soft skills” in a way that we… Read more »
Member
Hello again~ I fully appreciate reticence mentioned to re-test and the desire to grandfather. The purpose of re-certifying would be for the benefit of consumers, to whom we corporately have a duty, to ensure as much as possible that a RID certified interpreter is a qualified, capable interpreter for community appointments. From the professional standpoint, it would be incumbent upon us and assist in standardizing if there has been a flawed certification process previously, due to known errors (which it seems have been identified with the NIC exam), and the new exam would need to be deemed fully valid by… Read more »
Dennis Cokely
Member

Shelly

Thanks for the post.

I agree – we owe it to those we serve to provide them with a reliable indecent of minimum competence and, yes, “we should be able to get this right, consistently”!!!

dennis

Member
Colleen Jones

Hello Dennis.

Thank you for publishing your clearly-worded letter and for opening the discussion on this topic.

As a pre-certified interpreter and recent ITP graduate who is planning to take the NIC sooner or later, I am wondering if you have any advice on timing. I was planning to take the new test by the end of the summer, but am now seriously doubting my ability to pass. Do you anticipate any forthcoming information or changes that would warrant people in my situation delaying taking the test?

Thanks for your time.

Dennis Cokely
Member

Colleen

Congratulations on your recent graduation. While I have no crystal ball, I think if I were in your position I would wait for the “comprehensive report” that the Board promised it would share with the membership. That report should provide the information you would need to make an informed decision. Hopefully that report will be issued in the very near future. That report and responses from the members will provide clarity as to the next steps that need to be taken.

thanks again for the post.

dennis

Member
Shadowhands
I have recently taken the current test. I felt I did “fine” about most of my performance, but I walked out with my mind a storm about what trouble we are in as a profession, and how unaccomplished I will feel when I get that certificate in my hand. I did not feel assessed at all. I felt like RID had taken a picture of my pinky toe, and was going to assess my athleticism based on the length of my nail. Dennis has just voiced all of my concerns very eloquently. It is utterly depressing. Here’s a new ethical… Read more »
Member
Great comments. Now I’d like to follow up with written exam for CDI (Certified Deaf Interpreter). As you know that those exam was designed and developed in 20 years ago and not much to alter since then. Many of us have failed and requested for clarification on errors they made on exam. As an ASL Instructor, I do give them exam and also give out the correction after the exam so they will know what to do next time and prepare for better. But after CDI exam, they don’t do that…its very difficult because of wordings on exam were pretty… Read more »
trackback

[…] better than I could have done so myself. Please read his statements and letter to the board here. Interpreters love to talk about how no one properly understands our role and the role of our […]

Member

Thank you, Mr. Cokely, for inspiring me. I so badly want the organization to make me proud, and I am willing to get involved as necessary.

I’m happy to see that the comments on this article are constructive, and that it hasn’t devolved into a “flame war,” I think that bodes well for our profession, may we march forward.

Member
I am a CODA who has been interpreting for over 20 years. I interpret at our local university and freelance. I finally decided about 2 years ago to go ahead and get certified and I have been so frustrated and angry with RID throughout the whole process. I found out about the new AS requirement after I decided to begin the process and although I have over 100 college units, I had not actually finalized an AS degree – I took the appropriate final class to get the AS degree and planned everything out very carefully so that I could… Read more »
Member
Amanda Weiss

I would be interested to hear from someone who has taken the NIC enhanced test and passed. Is everyone failing? That is feeling I get.

Member

Hi Amanda,
I wonder the same thing. I misplaced mt latest copy of RID “Views”… there a section that lists newly certified interpreters along with their certification. Curious if there are any NIC enhanced interpreters listed.

Member
Lauren Clay

RID VIEWS says those listed were awarded certificaton between 12/13/2011 to 2/13/2012. Two of my friends listed there from two different states took their test in Summer 2011. So no, I don’t believe the names in the back of the VIEWS are of Enhanced NIC test takers.

Member

I have 3 friends who have all taken the enhanced NIC – one was CI/CT before. All 3 have failed.

Member
I took the enhanced NIC back in January. I just got my results back a couple days ago and passed. A friend of mine took it in December and passed as well. Which means it is possible. I’m not sure what specifically we did right or wrong though. We did not study together and are from different regions of the country. As others have already said, we both felt like the lack of information prior to taking the test was a huge disadvantage. Hopefully the “comprehensive report” promised will give us a better understanding and make the testing process less… Read more »
Dennis Cokely
Member
Rose – It may possible for many who take the “enhanced” NIC to pass (and believe me this, in no way, is meant to impugn your competence as an interpreter). Unfortunately that, in and of itself, does not make the test a valid assessment of interpretation competency. In addition to the lack of information prior to taking the test, did you feel the test fairly and adequately assessed what your work requires of you on a daily basis? Did you feel you were able to provide adequate samples of your typical work? Did you feel that the skills/competencies you exhibit… Read more »
Member

Hi Rose, I took the enhanced NIC in mid February and just received my results. I passed, like your friends did. We have a right to feel proud of our accomplishment- don’t you agree??

Member

Having just taken the test last Saturday, I would have to agree with your concerns regarding its validity to show a true picture of the inter

Dennis Cokely
Member

Jackie

Thanks for the post. Your reaction is certainly in line with many who have talked with me and who have posted here — the current iteration does NOT provide interpreters with an appropriate opportunity to demonstrate their work. That this seems to be an almost universal theme is one very strong reason why the face validity of this test is problematic.

thanks again for the post

dennis

Member

First I have taken the enhances NIC, failed. I thankfully have my CI/CT. My heart goes out to those whose livelihood depends upon passing the test. One made the statement they could possibly lose their house that is very wrong and they were one of the band of 34 who RID has seriously mistreated. My only question: IS RID LISTENING TO THE VOICE OF IT’S MEMBERSHIP?! Also, at this time has a reply been given to to the article from RID leadership?

Dennis Cokely
Member

L.Michelle –

Thanks for posting.

Given that I have had no response to my letter to date and the last correspondence I have had about the letter was on April 22, I would have to say that RID (by whom I presume you mean the Board) may be listening but they are surely not responding!!! And we eagerly await that response. That it has been over two months in the making is, i itself, very telling!!!

thanks again

dennis

Member
I understand the need for a standardized test, however, in this profession that focuses on equal access, the test is not accessible for many people with quirky vision. I am among the those who have severe difficulties with 2D images due to “convergence insufficiency” which is a doctor documented disability, yet I am told that accommodations cannot be made because the test must be on video to be standardized. I am told that in this day with so many people working VRS/VRI that the need to read video taped 2D images is paramount. I am an ethical interpreter and follow… Read more »
Dennis Cokely
Member
B – I, too, agree that, just as we have an alternative pathway to satisfy the BA requirement, we should have an alternate pathway to certification. This would take some careful thinking and planning, however. Clearly an alternate approach would take longer than a point-in-time testing approach; but here is where we might borrow from the British experience and have a competency-based portfolio approach. Without using video, we might conceive of an approach that uses simulations that are videotaped, videotaped live work, testimonials from colleagues, etc. and are assessed by a publicly available rubric. The point is that while a… Read more »
Member
Thank you, Dennis, for writing this letter and sharing it with us. I was not aware of the current situation, so thanks for enlightening me. I agree with you that, “We should definitely not advance an approach to testing that is not directly supported by empirical data on sign language interpretation,” but I would go broader and say “empirical data on interpretation” in general. Our field seems so focused on ASL and deaf culture that we forget we’re not the only ones who interpret between majority and minority languages and cultures. Interpreting is interpreting. Maybe we should be thinking about… Read more »
Member

Hi Dennis,
Just wondering, have you received a response to your letter? I just finished reading RID’s president’s report for May. Have you had a chance to look at it yet? It seemed to me to be making reference to your letter (although I’m sure it’s referring to other things as well). Any thoughts on this?

Dennis Cokely
Member
Rose I, too, have read the president’s May report. I certainly understand the myriad issues facing the current Board, but would suggest that at least some of those issues (e.g. the current NIC) are of its own making. And while I fully appreciate the investment of time required of an all-volunteer Board (I’ve been there), for me REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS surely would include timely acknowledgment of receipt of letters sent to the Board and provision to the members of psychometric evidence for a new test BEFORE the test is implemented. I sent an email to the RID president a couple of… Read more »
Member

I’ve been reading through the recently released Status Report on the Enhanced NIC. Dennis, I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this and how much of it is satisfactorily responsive to your concerns.

Dennis Cokely
Member
Shannon Thanks for the post and I apologize for the delay in responding. I will be sending a response to the Board in the next day or so. Not only do I believe the report is essentially non-responsive to the questions I raised, but it also raised many other issues which I have addressed in my response to the Board. I have also indicated to the Board that I plan to post it somewhere (Brandon?) two weeks after I send it to the Board. I truly believe that open, frank and non-incendiary discussion (as has generally been the case on… Read more »
Member
Peg, I hope RID responds positively to your concerns regarding not having the ethical problem narrative/instructions available for the full time allotted for the reading of the ethical problem and the formulation of a response. I have heard the same thing from several interpreters. One did not actually finish reading what action the interpreter took, nor whether they were to defend or criticize the decision. Another made their best guess as to whether to defend or criticize. Additionally, they did not know whether they had the right to protest to the LTA. (I should state that they shared this info… Read more »
Member

Wait, aren’t you supposed to decide for yourself whether to defend or criticize the interpreter’s actions?

Member

No, the instructions on the screen direct the candidate which option is required.

Member
I’m so happy to see this letter and all of the educated thoughtful responses. I hope I don’t ruin that now. 🙂 I had seen so few people talking about this that I had become even more discouraged. I have been mired in the NIC certification process for a long time refusing to give up. I may be at that point now though just having failed the NIC Enhanced. I mean I know I’m not a highly skilled interpreter, I get it and I am always trying to improve. I’m even fine with RID failing me based on that, I… Read more »
Member
Daryl Crouse

Dennis,

Your perspective and knowledge seems to always shine light where discussion needs to take place. My comment and question is from a somewhat different dynamic. RID will be hiring a new Executive Director in the coming months. In the interest of full disclosure, I am throwing my hat in the ring for the job. What role should the new ED take in this discussion, if any? How could the ED best serve the membership and the board during the dialogue?

Looking forward to your insights.

Daryl Crouse, CI, CT
Long Beach, CA

Member
Venetia Lacy
I have been busy reading everyone’s posts since my last entry. (I had a family emergency and have been out of reach since the May postings.) Dennis, I see where you received the information you needed regarding “who the Band of 34” are and the plight they have had to endure. I wonder if anyone has taken the liberties of checking into the embezzlement scandle on their own? I’ve seen some of the public records and court documents myself. I would suggest others do the same and not depend upon RID to provide you with this-RID cannot release information due… Read more »
Member

I’d also question, how many interpreters were impacted by this? The letter I got said- 34. However, when viewing the announcement RID put out (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZX14yGzEpM), they said “36.” So is it the Band of 34, 36 or more?

Member
Venetia Lacy

Who actually knows… smile. I’ve seen that announcement too and caught the#36 immediately-I cannot answer your question and when it was presented to the RID office last year, they couldn’t/or wouldn’t respond at that time.

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[…] questions raised in my, Defenders of Certification: Sign Language Interpreters Question “Enhanced” RID NIC Test, and that will be raised here, are not raised out of nostalgic ties; not raised out of a desire to […]

Member
This discussion is very interesting-but I do wonder what this means for people like myself, currently working in the field, who are certified under the NIC? Are we not respected in the field with an “NIC” behind our name? I took this interview portion of the exam the first spring it was offered, when only 1/3 of the testees passed. I passed. Should I be proud of that, or doubt my credentials and standing the interpreting community? I know NAD III interpreters who have been in the field for 25 years and never retested. Should I judge them on their… Read more »
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[…] of civility allow us to support our colleagues, find solutions to the thorny problems surrounding certification, and better help our future interpreters work and interact with the world with equanimity? Carolyn […]

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