Testing Interpreters: Developing, Administering, and Scoring Court Interpreter Certification Exams


  • Lois Marie Feuerle ATA,NAJIT


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Access to justice for Limited English Proficient (LEP) and non-English speakers in the U.S. courts is contingent upon the provision of complete and accurate interpreting services. This has been increasingly recognized over the course of the past 35 years or so, and there are currently three major tests administered nationally in the United States to assess interpreting skills in courtroom settings: (1) the Federal Court Interpreter Certification Examination administered on behalf of the United States Administrative Office of the Courts; (2) the examination, widely known as the Consortium Test, administered by 40 or so states, originally developed under the auspices of the National Center for State Courts by the former Consortium for State Court Interpreter Testing, which was recently restructured as the Consortium for Language Access; and (3) the NAJIT Test, developed by the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators at the request of its membership in order to raise the standards for the profession. In addition, both New York and California, historically states with high levels of immigration, early on developed their own testing procedures to meet statewide needs.

All of these examinations share numerous communalities, but they are also different in a variety of ways. This paper will provide an overview of the three national testing models plus New York, outlining their similarities and differences and pointing out some of the advantages and disadvantages of each model.