The Board for Evaluation of Interpreters (BEI) Test
Certification and licenses are required to provide sign language interpreting services in the states of Missouri and Illinois. Both states currently use the Board for Evaluation of Interpreters (BEI) test to certify qualified sign language interpreters. The test was established by the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services, Office for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services (DARS DHHS) in Texas. Missouri began administering the test in the summer of 2015.
Before taking the performance test, a candidate must pass the Test of English Proficiency (TEP). The TEP tests at an 11th to 12th grade level with 5 sections: reading comprehension, synonyms, grammar and usage, sentence completion, and antonyms. Read more about the structure here.
The Board for Evaluation of Interpreters (BEI) test has three different performance tests a candidate may take once they pass the TEP.
They must also meet the level prerequisites which include having an Associate’s degree or a minimum of sixty credit hours. The tests are labeled as Basic, Advanced, and Master. Missouri Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH) provides a list of level requirements for each specific setting interpreters may work in once certification is received.
Each performance test has four sections with one additional one for the Advanced and Master tests:
- Expressive interpreting (spoken English-to-ASL);
- Expressive transliterating (spoken English-to-signed English);
- Receptive transliterating (signed English –to-spoken English);
- Sight translation (written English to ASL);
- (NOT Basic) Receptive interpreting (ASL-to-spoken-English).
Reliability and Validity
A pilot test was administered to a small group of people when first creating the BEI. Authors collected data to create a test now widely used.
According to the BEI Study Guide, “The BEI interpreter performance tests are based on both the experience of practicing interpreters and the empirical research of testing experts.” The BEI raters use a rubric to examine the accuracy of a candidate’s language interpretation. Raters use the rubric to look for specific words or phrases produced by each candidate.
Ratings are based on three different analyses: Overall Objective Assessment, Overall Subjective Assessment, and Overall Performance Summary. Candidates must demonstrate a limited number of errors in the objective section and a “Meets Expectation” in the subjective and performance sections in order to pass the test. In this way, the test is standardized (the same for each candidate) which contributes to the reliability of the BEI.
“Over time,” the Board for Evaluation of Interpreters states, “Theoretically, reliability ranges from .0 (no consistency) to 1.00, (perfect consistency).” (BEI Study Guide, pg. 19) The current BEI test, begun in 2001, is still relatively new in the sign language interpreting profession. The Board also stated, “All language tests undergo extensive piloting and post testing statistical procedures to ensure that the population tested is fairly evaluated.”