Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment (EIPA)


n 1991, Boys Town National Research Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska responded to requests for tools that could assess the proficiency of educational interpreters by developing the Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment ® (EIPA). The EIPA offers a family of products designed to provide:
  • Accurate and timely assessment of educational interpreters
  • Assessment of content knowledge needed to work in an educational setting
  • Information for school administrators, educators and parents regarding the role and function of educational interpreters and the need for competent services
  • Guidance to Departments of Education at both the federal and state levels regarding issues of educating deaf and hard of hearing students in inclusive settings
EIPA products and services are provided through the EIPA Diagnostic Center at Boys Town National Research Hospital. In keeping with the Hospital’s mission, the Individuals With Disabilities Act (IDEA), and No Child Left Behind, the Center is committed to making a difference in the quality of education for deaf and hard of hearing student.

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).

EIPA Rating System

The evaluation team uses an EIPA rating form to evaluate the interpreter’s abilities.
The samples are rated in the following domains:
  1. Grammatical skills: Use of prosody (or intonation), grammar, and space.
  2. Sign-to-voice interpreting skills: Ability to understand and convey child/teen sign language
  3. Vocabulary: Ability to use a wide range of vocabulary, accurate use of fingerspelling and numbers
  4. Overall abilities: Ability to represent a sense of the entire message, use appropriate discourse structures, and represent who is speaking
Evaluators use a Likert Scale to assess specific skills. Scores for each skill range from 0 (no skills demonstrated) to 5 (advanced native-like skills). The scores from all three evaluators are averaged for each skill area, each domain, as well as the overall test score. An individual’s EIPA score is the summary total score. For example, an interpreter could report her/his score as EIPA Secondary PSE 4.2, which represents the grade level, the language modality, and the total summary EIPA score.

Descriptions of each EIPA Level

Level 1: Beginner

Demonstrates very limited sign vocabulary with frequent errors in production. At times, production may be incomprehensible. Grammatical structure tends to be nonexistent. Individual is only able to communicate very simple ideas and demonstrates great difficulty comprehending signed communication. Sign production lacks prosody and use of space for the vast majority of the interpreted message.
An individual at this level is not recommended for classroom interpreting.

Level 2: Advanced Beginner

Demonstrates only basic sign vocabulary and these limitations interfere with communication. Lack of fluency and sign production errors are typical and often interfere with communication. The interpreter often hesitates in signing, as if searching for vocabulary. Frequent errors in grammar are apparent, although basic signed sentences appear intact. More complex grammatical structures are typically difficult. Individual is able to read signs at the word level and simple sentence level but complete or complex sentences often require repetitions and repairs. Some use of prosody and space, but use is inconsistent and often incorrec
An individual at this level is not recommended for classroom interpreting.

Level 3: Intermediate

Demonstrates knowledge of basic vocabulary, but will lack vocabulary for more technical, complex, or academic topics. Individual is able to sign in a fairly fluent manner using some consistent prosody, but pacing is still slow with infrequent pauses for vocabulary or complex structures. Sign production may show some errors but generally will not interfere with communication. Grammatical production may still be incorrect, especially for complex structures, but is in general intact for routine and simple language. Comprehends signed messages but may need repetition and assistance. Voiced translation often lacks depth and subtleties of the original message. An individual at this level would be able to communicate very basic classroom content, but may incorrectly interpret complex information resulting in a message that is not always clear.
An interpreter at this level needs continued supervision and should be required to participate in continuing education in interpreting.

Level 4: Advanced Intermediate

Demonstrates broad use of vocabulary with sign production that is generally correct. Demonstrates good strategies for conveying information when a specific sign is not in her/his vocabulary. Grammatical constructions are generally clear and consistent, but complex information may still pose occasional problems. Prosody is good, with appropriate facial expression most of the time. May still have difficulty with the use of facial expression in complex sentences and adverbial non-manual markers. Fluency may deteriorate when rate or complexity of communication increases. Uses space consistently most of the time, but complex constructions or extended use of discourse cohesion may still pose problems. Comprehension of most signed messages at a normal rate is good but translation may lack some complexity of the original message.
An individual at this level would be able to convey much of the classroom content but may have difficulty with complex topics or rapid turn taking.

Level 5: Advanced

Demonstrates broad and fluent use of vocabulary, with a broad range of strategies for communicating new words and concepts. Sign production errors are minimal and never interfere with comprehension. Prosody is correct for grammatical, non-manual markers, and affective purposes. Complex grammatical constructions are typically not a problem. Comprehension of sign messages is very good, communicating all details of the original message.
An individual at this level is capable of clearly and accurately conveying the majority of interactions within the classroom.