New BEI Testing System to Begin in 2006
By Angela Bryant



The DARS/DHHS Board for Evaluation of Interpreters (BEI) is in the final year of new test development activities and look forward to implementing the new certification testing system in September 2006. To date, the University of Arizona and the BEI expert panel have completed: 1) The Job/Linguistic Analysis of current certified interpreters in Texas; 2) Development and piloting of an English Proficiency test; 3) Development of scripts for Basic, Advanced and Master level performance tests; and 4) Production and piloting of the new performance tests.

Format of New Examinations

Test of English Proficiency
The final version of this test consists of 80 questions with five subsections to test: 1) Reading Comprehension; 2) Synonyms; 3) Usage and Grammar; 4) Sentence Completion and 5) Antonyms. The time allowed to complete the test is 1 hour and 15 minutes. All candidates will be required to take the test of English proficiency before taking any level of the performance test. A candidate instructions bulletin will soon be available for dissemination and will be posted to the DARS web site.

Interpreter Performance Exams
A three-tiered system was developed to certify individuals by skill levels. Detailed below are descriptions for each level:

Basic Certificate

This certificate will ensure that all BEI certified interpreters meet minimum competency standards to interpret in K - 12 and postsecondary settings. This performance test will emphasize terms and scenarios found not only in general lecture and teaching situations, but other educational contexts as well. The standard in comparison to the current Level I certification is significantly raised. The examination consists of:

  • Expressive Interpreting
  • Expressive Transliterating
  • Receptive Interpreting
  • Sight Translation

Advanced Certificate

This certificate will ensure that the interpreter has skills necessary to interpret in more complex settings other than educational, indicated by the JLA. This performance test will emphasize the terms and scenarios in routine medical, public forums, government workforce, mental health, and social service settings. The Advanced certificate sets a clear standard for an interpreter ready to work in the majority of settings and performing a wide range of tasks. The Advanced certificate will raise the standard of the current Level III interpreter. The examination consists of:

  • Expressive Interpreting
  • Expressive Transliterating
  • Receptive Interpreting
  • Receptive Transliterating
  • Sight Translation

Master Certificate

This certificate will ensure that the interpreter has the skills necessary to interpret in the most complex settings including complex medical and complex mental health. This test will serve to identify those interpreters qualified to work in the most critical areas. The examination consists of:

  • Expressive Interpreting
  • Expressive Transliterating
  • Receptive Interpreting
  • Receptive Transliterating
  • Sight Translation

New Testing Procedures

With the implementation of the new testing system, the procedures and fees can be expected to change as well. Presently, the BEI is exploring alternate methods of administering the written examination to make it more accessible around the state. More information will be forthcoming about these very important matters including details about the requirement of mandatory code of ethics training. So please continue to check the DARS web site for updates.

Other Important Program Initiatives

Court Interpreter Certification

HB 2200 passed in 2005 made changes to the court interpreter certification process. Beginning September 1, 2006 interpreters who work in court proceedings must hold Court Interpreter Certification (CIC). To date the following court interpreter certification implementation activities have occurred:

  • The development of an application and procedures for obtaining court interpreter certification.
  • The development of eligibility requirements which includes having:
    1. A valid Texas BEI Level III, IV or V certification or a valid RID at CSC, CI/CT, RSC, CDI or MCSC certification.
    2. Completion of an approved course of instruction in courtroom interpretation skills with not less than 120 hours of classroom instruction;
    3. Mentoring for not less than 120 hours of actual practice by a certified court interpreter who has been approved to act as a mentor; or
    4. A combination of instruction and mentoring totaling 120 hours.
  • The development of training requirements which includes completing:
    1. A course on the criminal law process of at least 16 hours;
    2. A course on civil law process of at least 16 hours;
    3. A course on legal terminology of at least 8 hours;
    4. A course on ethical practices for court interpreters of at least 8 hours.
  • The development of test administration procedures and a candidate bulletin to assist with preparing for the examination.
  • The development of certification maintenance and certificate renewal processes.

Any questions about court interpreter certification should be directed to Randi Turner at randi.turner@dars.state.tx.us or Angela Bryant at angela.bryant@dars.state.tx.us.

Texas Trilingual Initiative

DHHS and the University of Arizona partnered to get a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education develop the nation's first Hispanic trilingual interpreter certification tests. This work began in November, 2004. Stemming from the pioneering work of the Texas Hispanic Trilingual Task Force, the new certification exams will test candidate's proficiency in ASL/English/Spanish, ensuring that the large and growing Hispanic deaf and hard of hearing community in Texas has equal access to education, social services, health care and other vital services, and especially to be able to communicate with their Spanish speaking families.

During the month of July, BEI staff traveled to various Texas cities to conduct pilot testing of the new Spanish Proficiency examination for 52 BEI and RID certified interpreters. Presently, the results of those exams are being compiled and more updates will be forthcoming.

BEI Office Welcomes New Team Member

For more than a decade, Connie Sefcik-Kennedy and Angela Bryant have worked diligently to provide the best possible services to the consumers and interpreters of Texas. At times we experienced challenges and minor setbacks striving to meet all of the demands of the program. But with persistence, dedication and team work we've managed to maintain a level of consistency. At this time we are pleased to introduce Beth Hasty, a new staff addition who began working in the BEI program on September 1, 2005. For the last several months Beth worked as the DHHS receptionist and provided assistance to the Specialized Telecommunications Assistance Program (STAP). We are thrilled to have her on our team and look forward to providing even better services in the near future!

As always, thanks to all BEI certified interpreters for your continued support and we look forward to hearing from you whenever questions arise. Send email to bei@dars.state.tx.us or call us at 512.407.3250, 512.407.3251 (TTY), or 800.628.5115 or 866.581.9328 (TTY).