That's a tough question. In my county we go by the student's IEP. Which means each student has different accommodations. Unfortunately, the majority of students do not have in signing standardized tests in their IEP. We are therefore limited to signing the directions only and it is very difficult to sit and watch the student struggle through the test.
I have been involved in standardized testing as an interpreter, and as a teacher at the school for the Deaf. In both situations, I have signed the test. As an interpreter, we were placed in with a group who had a "read aloud" accommodation, and I signed as the teacher read. That had its own problems, primarily timing issues. As a teacher, I signed for my students. Signing a test like that is tricky, you have to know the content well enough to be able to determine the intent of the question. If the whole question hinges on the meaning of one vocabulary item, you have to spell that word. If the question is focused on a concept, then you can safely use whatever classifiers/negotiated terms that will adequately communicate the question.
I think a bigger question is related to how the different school systems interpret the accommodations. I know that originally I was told 'thou shalt sign verbatim' which doesn't help a child who needs ASL as opposed to English. Then later I was told it was okay to interpret. What does your system say?
Intent of the question, indeed! Great discussion and question, Cherie. I would love more answers from various systems, too. Our system at one time was asked by the interpreting staff for direction in signing the test. The question went as far up as it could on the totem pole and the answer received was that the interpreting staff was fully qualfied to determine what was best. When specifically asked "What if the interpreter inadvertently gives away a test question by signing it?" we were told that we were professionals, and as such, we were fully trusted to sign appropriately. I found that answer to be most helpful. Additionally the answer makes me realize just how necessary proficiency is in the field of educational interpreting. This is a tremendous responsibility to be charged with. Donna
It frustrates the snot out of me every year that we really don't have a standardized way to interpret standardized tests...or just some guidelines to follow! Exactly how much are we allowed to "interpret" the content without having to change the IEP testing modifications to "paraphrasing" (which moves it from standard to nonstandard)?
And here's another issue: "extended time". Last year, during the language arts portion, me and one of my interpreters spent so much testing time discussing how to interpret a concept "legally", the test almost went beyond the time alloted for extended time. We were exhausted!!!!!
I completely understand your frustration. You do know that as an interpreter you are allowed to view to testing material ahead of time. That is stated in the DOE accommodations book. That may help you and your interpreting team to get the concepts ahead of time. My other question is do they limit the "extended time" allotted for students? I know for my county we can spend the whole school day on the test if needed.
Interpreting is not paraphrasing. Interpreting is changing from one (completely valid) language to another (completely valid) language. As long as you are INTERPRETING, then you are not paraphrasing. That is not an issue if youre interpreting into Spanish, or another spoken language. That is only an problem here because of the modality issue, and because the SEE stuff has SO muddied the water in regards to signing. Signing English word order is NOT interpreting.
Get the test in advance, work out how you are going to sign tricky concepts, decide what the 'hinge point/intent' of each question is- and sign it in valid ASL, if that is the accommodation accepted for your student.
We were restricted to double time as of just a year or two ago, something changed int he language at that time I think...
Yes.. When I have been allowed to view test before testing I had to go in a room with testing coordinatior and read through it..
One thing that has helped me out is to look up the standards of the grade you are going to be interpreting for at the start of the year.. This gives me a good idea about the vocabulary that the student will/could see on their test..
Knowing this vocabulary at the start of the year will allow for me (as that students interpreter) to KNOW that they will have to know and read.
For example: If the standard states that students must know their shapes.. Chances are they will be tested on them..
1. which shape is a triangle?
If we sign TRIANGLE it will give away the answer, sooooo.....
While I am interpreting I will not often sign "TRIANGLE" I will fingerspell it....over and over and over again...
My point in saying this, is that by doing this is gives ME the confidence in the students ability to recognize and understand the spelled word, thus giving me more confidence with fingerspelling certain things on the test.
Anything that comes from the top dogs and has a label of STANDARDIZED scares me... you want to make sure that you are interpreting everything for the STANDARDIZED TEST perfect (or else...).. but in reality if you are a professional and you know how to do your job correctly then everything will be fine!
I also want to state that as a interpreter I would never be alone in a room with a student testing, I ALWAYS have a certified teacher (preferably the TOD) read the test aloud (if that is the accommodation).. I like to talk to the person reading the test for me and explain things about interpreting to them (if they do not already know)..
For Example: If they are reading a question from a reading passage (that I did not interpret)
2. Where was the flower in the story?
I will explain to them that if they could spell f.l.o.w.e.r. and not just SAY flower it will help me not to sign/spell flour.
Okay, enough of that.... sorry I went on and on.... knowledge is power y'all!!!
It is very difficult to answer this question. However, I usually sign and spell the sign. With a question like big and huge I sign it with the degree of intensity on my face and sign size. Even with this discrimination, depending on how well the student is paying attention, they may or may not answer correctly.