What is going on with the federal court interpreter certification test results?

February 20, 2018 § 67 Comments

Dear Colleagues,

The federal court interpreter certification is the highest credential a Spanish court interpreter can have in the United States.  Unfortunately, the exam is not available in other languages, but it has historically separated good court interpreters from mediocrity in the legal arena. Fortunately, the exam has been difficult and very demanding through the years, and the result has been a group of better prepared court interpreters who demonstrated they have the minimum knowledge and skill needed in a courtroom. A test this difficult will always have its detractors and there have been plenty of these disgruntled individuals who attribute their failure to pass the test to everything under the sun but their own lack of skills. This is acceptable, and it reinforces that the content of the exam is the right one.

Unfortunately, recent changes, not to the exam contents, but to the way it is administered and graded, have put into question the reliability of the results.

It started a few years ago when, undoubtedly for budgetary reasons, it was decided to reduce the number of exam graders from three to two. It is hard to understand why any deliberating group would ever go from an odd number of decision-makers to an even number, but that happened. Please notice I am not bringing up an earlier change on the administration of the exam when in-person examiners were substituted by a recording device because I believe that change was positive because all candidates listened to the same recordings, and it allow graders to rewind and listen an utterance as many times as needed. This change resulted in a fair exam.

The biggest irregularities happened last September when the exam was administered for the first time by Paradigm Testing, who presumably outbid the former test administrator. While this newcomer to the court interpreter testing arena brought changes and innovations designed to save money, it also imposed an undue burden on the examination candidates. We have all heard many complaints about practice/training exams arriving late, poorly given instructions on operating the testing equipment, proctors staying outside of the exam room making it impossible for candidates to ask questions or report problems on a time-sensitive examination. We all know about the faulty internet connections that took away precious time needed to complete the test; and we all know stories about the infamous click button during the consecutive rendition where examinees had to click a button twice in a small pop-up window for each utterance, and then quickly pick up the pen or pencil and sort papers to get ready for the next utterance. Even the ergonomics was a big concern since the candidates were forced to keep their writing materials to the side because the laptop was directly in front, sometimes taking over most of the space on the table. I always believe that proctors were not just there to police the examinee, but also to facilitate the process.

No doubt these irregularities resulted in some questionable test results for some, perhaps many, of the candidates. I wonder if this is the reason the results of a test taken in September have not been disclosed yet. The Federal Court Interpreter Certification Examination for Spanish/English Examinee Handbook states: “…C. Score Reporting Procedures and Timelines… Oral Examination: Scores will be available approximately three months after the administration of the oral examination, and will be sent to the e-mail address provided during registration. The Director of the AO will confer certification on candidates who pass the oral examination, usually within four months following the examination…” (Federal Court Interpreter Certification Examination for Spanish/English Examinee Handbook, updated June 1, 2017. Page 4)

Two very important deadlines were missed by Paradigm Testing: Results must be in the candidate’s e-mail box in approximately three months! The exam was in September 2017. It has been over five months. The Administrative Office of the United States Courts had to issue proof of certification to those who passed the test four months after the exam! The AO is in default also. This is very troubling as we all know that the exams were graded last year.

The grading of the exam is another issue that should concern us all. First the reduction from three to two graders, and now a tendency to bring in as graders more staff interpreters than freelancers. This is a matter to be considered as well.  Staff court interpreters are federally certified, and the ones invited to grade the test are very capable professionals. However, they bring to the table certain perspective and limited experience in many areas of the law when compared to freelancers. Most staff interpreters do a magnificent job interpreting those issues that involve federal legislation. Freelancers contribute a broader knowledge and a different perspective. Does this matter? Are they going to test the examinee on non-federal matters? Of course not, but unlike the staff interpreter, the freelancer may tell if a candidate did not know the subject, or just made the mistake of treating it like a local matter. The real issue is, freelancers are more expensive because they must be paid; staffers are getting the same paycheck they would get anyway. Reality shows that many interpreters are not finding grading the exam attractive anymore because they get paid little for the amount of work.

I hope that last September test results are published soon, and they better be free of controversy for the sake of those who took the exam, and for the future of the once very reliable federal certification program. I now invite you to share your stories and thoughts on this very serious matter.

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§ 67 Responses to What is going on with the federal court interpreter certification test results?

  • Franco Camero says:

    Excellent. It’s time to review the reviewers, the tests, etc.
    All interpreters tests should be:
    Live and in public.
    In front of a jury of peers (Witness peers).
    Actual cases.
    100% passing.
    Similar to a mock trial, for courts.
    Different ones for each venue.
    I was a check interpreter in Federal court for a parent infringement case.
    I felt sorry for the interpreter.
    And he was flown from Washington DC to Detroit.
    Why?
    You would want a perfect interpreter to interpret for you, correct?
    Having passed the tests, and having experience in interpreting are NOT qualifications for a reviewer.
    Go for it.
    You have my full support.

    • Jose M Perez says:

      I have called many times regarding test results; of course i have received the same answers as everyone, including one about money owed to Paradigm. I was also told that the exams of those who passed were going to be re-evaluated. Like everyone who values the work that we do; I diligently prepared for the exam; like everyone who took the exam I not only spent time but I also made an investment. I really do not care who is at fault; not interested in a blame game. PLEASE, WILL SOMEONE STEP UP AND RESOLVE THIS PROBLEM! This would greatly be appreciated.

  • Mariana Boatwright says:

    After preparing diligently fore more than six months, and a postponed test date due to a hurricane, it was rather disappointing and frustrating trying to keep up with a computer during the consecutive portion of the test . In my opinion my main concern should have been to listen , take notes, and accurately render the statement in the target language but instead , I had to be focusing on operating a machine while the proctor just sat there staring at a screen.
    We were pretty much administering the test to ourselves , something I find utterly unacceptable.

  • The administration has gone dark on this. We have bankrolled a beta exam. It is time to demand transparency from the AO. Five months into this inexcusable waiting time we habe heard zero from them. No apology. No explanation. Zilch. Do you think attorbeys waiting for bar exam results would be treated this way? Make no mistake. Exam takers are being treated as children who must do as they’re told. I’m done.

  • Jean Bellego says:

    It certainly was a disappointment!

  • Maria Laura Angel says:

    I have no words to describe how dissapointed and frustrated I feek with this. I took the test September 11th, in Chicago. The first day the test was offered. Not only the Way the test was administered was a hindrance to my performance but I also encountered many technical problems. The server or Internet froze in the middle of my test twice and I had to re-take the test again later the same afternoon. On my third try I had one of the proctors breathing down my neck because he needed to make sure that the computer was working and that the timer was running. Those are just some of the many issues I suffered that day. However what frustrates me the most is the lack of response from Paradigm and from de FCICE office. I emailed them several times and I have not heard back from them. Unacceptable!

    • Franco Camero says:

      Let me add that THIS is causing DEPRESSION and negative effects on the candidates.
      Even if they “pass”.
      Luckily I am retired.
      But this is downright illegal.
      It’s violating Chapter VI of the Civil Rights Act.
      There is a Mafia.
      The testing now is different than previous testings.

  • Georganne Weller says:

    WOW, I had no idea, thanks a million Tony for this very informative blog, I’m glad that I’m not waiting at the mailbox day after day during months for the test results, NOT FAIR and other issues more than the time delay are even more important.

  • Maribel PINTADO-ESPIET says:

    As a former administrator, I don’t see how they get away with this. Back in the day if Massachusetts pulled this type of stunt, they would have had my head. For 15 plus years I administered the certification exam for court interpreters in my state. We had full transparency. We would video the oral, as well as audio record it, and candidates would be given their results. Candidates who failed were able to review the tape and obtain a study plan form our office. There may have been complaints in other areas, but not around the exam administration. The FCICE has a larger budget and more resources… what gives?

  • Kathleen Morris says:

    Those who believe their test results may have been affected by technical glitches, may wish to contact:

    Javier Soler
    Director, Interpreter Division
    Administrative Office of U.S. Courts
    Javier_Soler@ao.uscourts.gov

  • Kathleen Morris says:

    Do not let Mr. Soler “off the hook, due to glitches being the responsibility of the testing agency” to address. True, the agency was obviously not fully equipped to administer a valid exam, and may not wish to assume responsibility for technical glitches, much less to set them right (re-testing at no extra cost, etc.)

    However, it”s my understanding that the AO bears ultimate responsibility here, since I believe it”s the AO”s office who subcontracted Paradigm”s services. My layman’s opinion: Any goup lawsuit filed in this issue should name both the AO”s office and Paradigm Testing Services as case defendants.

  • Franco Camero says:

    Those were the good days.
    It’s now a business.
    I feel sorry for the young interpreters.

  • I did receive a reply from Paradigm Testing over the weekend, after I sent a note, individually, to Mr. Soler of the AO and every person I could find at Paradigm (email addresses found at their web site). The reply from Paradigm said, “Scores have not been released and I cannot tell you when. We are just as frustrated as you are regarding this situation. I have stopped giving out approximate dates – dates given to me by the FCICE because they are always wrong and it make me look like a stooge. I am sorry and apologize to you but that is the best I can do as of this date.”

    This is on the AO. They should have made sure that Paradigm’s platform would reliably perform as required by the AO and by the interpreter candidates. If we were asked what we want, I’d say we should be allowed to re-take the test at no cost (to us), using whatever system was used in the past, prior to Paradigm’s, and a guaranteed delivery of the results in no more than 4 weeks.

  • Oliver Renwick says:

    Hey,

    Second time test taker, first time commenter.

    I agree 100% not to let them off the hook — but just so you know, you have put some factually inaccurate information up here. There were delays in the testing. I personally didn’t do my test till the end of October (because they screwed it up and had to retest me) so for me, I’ve been counting November 1st as the day to start counting the 3 months from, which is what I was personally told by, like, the head of Paradigm at the time of my test.

    tl; dr: this has been a dumpster fire, you’ll probably have your results towards the end of March.

    • Thank you, Oliver. You retested. Most people did not.

    • Susana says:

      Hello all.

      Interesting how Mr. Renwick was re-tested. Hm.., I wonder how many others re-tested.
      I, for one, am vehemently opposed to a retest. I spent too much money and time, sacrificing personal and family time for this exam. To pass this exam was supposed to have been the acme of my education. The whole mess has blown the wind out of my sails. It’s one thing to fail the exam, fair and square and then to become even more determined to pass it as a matter of personal pride. I would have been the first one to open the books and get down to the business of studying. It’s a very different thing to have to prepare for it again because of bureaucratic negligence. I will be contacting Mr. Soler today.

      • Oliver Renwick says:

        The story is highly ridiculous.

        In preparing for the exam, I was unable to do the whole practice exam on Paradigm’s website because apparently they hired someone’s fourteen year old novice web architect to build their system for them (remember how you had to have a consistent 5MB+ download speed to use it? Lol)–

        This is pertinent because I drove to Washington DC from Cleveland, showed up bright and early at a hotel where they were actually paying for Wi-Fi, did my test, and drove home, where I finally had the to reflect on my experience and realize that I had been given the practice exam as if it were the real exam.

        Paradigm was rightfully apologetic and offered to retest me on my terms. I had them come to me, in Cleveland, and administer a real test.

        So in a sense I was not retested, I was simply given the test I should have been given in the first place. And I hope you’re not upset with me personally; I’m a victim of Paradigm’s complete unpreparedness as much as the rest of us. I, too, made projections and plans about my professional life based on this, and spent thousands of dollars in time and money preparing.

      • sophia says:

        I feel the same way Susana. It´s been 10 months since I took the test in Arizona and I still don´t have my results.
        Mr. Soler is no longer replying to my emails.

  • Kathleen Morris says:

    Ezrquiel is correct. Paradigm should agree to re-test all affected candidates, at no extra cost. In my opinion, a live testing panel made up of FCICE working professionals would be better, even if the exam is pre-recorded. Candidates’ lip movement, facial expressions, and body language provide invaluable clues to their basic confidence and preparedness. These observations are just as important as vocabulalay memorization, for a full and valid evaluation of professional skills.

    • Kathleen, yes. That’s a great idea. Except, that I don’t want Paradigm to proctor the exam. They’ve been disappointing in every single aspect, from the technical capabilities, to communicating with us, to the knowledge of the proctors present at the test sites (I can only speak for my proctor, who was “nice,” but didn’t know much of anything that had to do with the test, but we’ve all heard and read of others’ horror stories).

      Also… they need to do this “pronto” before a whole &^#%$ year goes by and we’re on top of this year’s written test. (Pardon my French.)

  • Paul says:

    I am one of the ones that took the test on September of last year. I almost had to wrestle paper away from the proctor. He told me that one sheet of paper was all I needed for the whole test and that if I needed more I could ask for more as I went along. I kindly asked for the notebook that he was holding and he insisted that I didn’t need it but he gave me for more pages.

    He then proceeded to explain to me that this was a “translation” exam and that taking too many notes is not good “translation”. He asked me if I had ever taken a “translation” exam before. I told him did I have taken both translation and interpretation exams before and that I am and approved Court interpreter in the state of New Jersey.

    Then he found it incumbents to explain to me that sometimes I was going to listen to something in English then pause, and then I was supposed to “hawblarr” in “hispaneeole”. Then sometimes I would just listen in “hispaneeole” and speak in English at the same time.

    I also experienced issues with the infamous consecutive section but he did not notice the mistake that I was making the first three attempts because he was too busy reading People’s magazine behind me. When I asked him if he could do something about those three missed utterances, she told me that I could use one of my repetitions and that was it. He also cavalierly mentioned that if I were going to fail the test for one or two points that that was going to fail it at any rate and that it wasn’t worth fighting for.

    I prepared for a very long time for this exam and spent many hours and a lot of money and hopes that this would be the professional measure of the cream of the crop. Instead, I found a very unprofessional environment with a very nonchalant attitude towards something that could have such huge ramifications in my career.

  • Joel Bloom says:

    The fact that these results have been delayed like this is a mockery of our legal system, and a disgrace to our profession. It is disgusting that you can ask questions about where the results are, and nobody from this testing agency can even answer you, or call you back if you leave a message. The board that decided to grant this testing agency the right to administer this exam should be ashamed of itself. Like everything else in our industry, it’s just another classic example of cutting costs and, in turn, receiving the lowest quality service possible. This makes me embarrassed to call this my profession – everyone that works in this arena administratively is unreliable and they don’t deserve to even have jobs. Somebody step up to the plate here that can answer some questions, this is a little past the point of ridiculous now.

    As a mere gesture of professional courtesy, every single applicant that took this exam, and prepared for months and even years building up to it, should be at the very least reimbursed for their testing fees 100%. A strange testing format that was unorthodox and unexpected with the computer system, followed by this debacle of missing scores with no updates, is absolutely unacceptable and disgraceful.

  • Susana says:

    So many comments, and I can relate to ALL of them. After a very long delay to my exam due to computer glitches, I was told I would probably have to come back after hours to take it. I threw a literal fit, since I had a flight home that afternoon! Long story short, I took the exam about 90 minutes later, completely frazzled, only to find all the technical and logistical issues everyone experience in the consecutive ( I thought it was just me. who struggled)
    In any case, I ended up missing my flight that evening, booked a second hotel and a second flight home.
    Thus, I am completely opposed to retaking the exam. I spent too much time and money, in preparation, and travel, loss of airfare, etc. Re-taking the exam at no cost simply won’t do for me. Paradigm and the AO need to get their act together. Not ok!

  • I’ll be making more phone calls on Monday. Look what I found:

    Director of the AOUSC: James C Duff. Main line for AOUSC, 202-502-2600. I assume his email address is James_Duff@ao.uscourts.gov.
    Court Services Office:
    Javier Soler, (202) 502-3261, Javier_Soler@ao.uscourts.gov, OR
    Jennifer Bayles, (202) 502-3289, Jennifer_Bayles@ao.uscourts.gov.

    I will be voicing my opinion and the collective concern, but keeping it professional. I don’t want to give them a reason to drag it out any more just because they can.

    Source: Google.
    I also found this: https://goo.gl/hb34W6 (long url, just shortened. US Gov’t Manual, AO, USCourts)

    Have a great weekend, folks.

    • Joel Bloom says:

      Ther is something wrong, they are not just dragging this out to drag it out. If the test could have been graded in 3 months, the only reason it could now be almost 6 months without results is if something went wrong, and they are buying time thinking how to devise a solution.

      Every single person that took this exam across the country needs to send an email to those three people whose addresses were listed, and they need to state their grievances. Furthermore, to make our complaints heard with more urgency and attention, we need to express to them that we are collectively planning a legal investigation into the testing administration company as well as the administrative office of the courts. They have violated the rules which is the same as breaching an agreement or contract, and there should be liability.

      If you receive your exam results and you find out that you did not pass the exam, and you were only given percentages that you scored on each component, that is not proof that they were able to hear your entire oral exam. We need to demand proof that every single examinee’s oral test was received in full and there were no technical glitches that omitted segments or rendered them inaudible. If there were, that is not on the interpreter, but on the testing company as their administration technique of the exam was unexpected,
      untested and unsatisfactory.

      Last, every examinee nationwide should demand a 100% refund of their exam fees for dealing with this. Everyone needs to send an email to those 3 addresses, and we need to let these people know that we are planning a legal probe into their procedures, and we are demanding proof that the exams were received and graded entirely, as well as demand the test refunds. This company and the AOC have breached the written agreement, and they cannot and should not be able to walk away free of liability.

      • It is high time to act. I couldn’t agree with you more. People need to get their heads out of tje sand. Write. Call.

      • Ninoska Mancebo Meyer says:

        This has been a complete debacle. People restarted and took the test multiple times in one sitting. That is absolutely an incredible advantage. We need to take action on this ASAP.

  • André Csihas, FCCI says:

    What a god-forsaken tragedy!

    Never in my wildest dreams, did I think that such travesty would befall my colleagues who so much hoped to accomplish in this very rigid and arduous exam.

    With all due respects to the powers that be, but this has got to be the ultimate insult and show of disrespect to an extremely thin strata of professionals who through their knowledge, experience and linguistic expertise have attempted to reach a higher level of professional competency in our field.

    Much to my dismay and chagrin, I have colleagues who took the last oral exam given, and who to this day, have not heard a single utterance about the expected results, even though FIVE MONTHS have passed since. Really? Is this how this very special and unique profession is treated? Is this how the aspiring federal interpreters ought to be treated? Is this how these unique people deserve to be manipulated because of the obvious incompetence of the exam-administering authorities? Is this the level of disrespect they deserve?

    Please, whoever you are, whoever decides these matters, you really need to reconsider your appalling and sorry strategy, because for some of us, it is part of our livelihood. We don’t take these exams just to exercise our ability to roll our r’s in Spanish; we take these exams with the hope of successfully passing them and successfully practice our profession as federal interpreters. This is not a game, this is not a joke, this is real life for us, and we strive to practice it to the max.

    So, again, you people, yes, you people who have gotten the lowest bid to administer these exams, are a mirror of your bid; the lowest bid, the lowest service, the lowest regard, must reconsider you extremely poor approach to this very serious matter.

    Shame on you!

    André Csihas, FCCI

    • André Csihás, FCCI says:

      It’s shameful that the federal system would actually allow this very important exam to be administered by such an apparently incompetent entity, especially in light of the fact that for years we’ve heard that there aren’t enough federally certified court interpreters to satisfy the national demand and thereby justifying the use of “wannabe” interpreters at a lower cost to do the legal systems’ bidding.

      I very strongly feel that the importance of the federal interpreter is being diminished by these budgetary excuses, as if the federal interpreters were the primary reason for the overblown expenses in this poorly-managed process.

      The effect of these pathetic actions, will surely leave a huge question mark in the minds of those who have intentions of following in our professional footsteps.

      André Csihás, FCCI

    • We finally got a response today. Announcing delays in conveying results..😰😰😰😰

  • Ezequiel Quijano says:

    UPDATE: I called the director’s main phone line and when I was asked to leave a message and started to explain, I ended up leaving a message for a Ms. Figueroa. Then I left a message for Mr. Soler. Then I called Ms. Bayles, but the number I posted before is not hers anymore. The person that that extension is a contractor and knows nothing about it. She now works for a department that has nothing to do with the interpreters or the FCICE.

    • Kathleen Morris says:

      The comments of Paul and others who studied and prepared diligently for the oral exam, make me quite angry. My experience testing 35 years ago was nothing but courteous and professional, handled by live, working FCCI’s. New oral exam candidates deserve nothing less.

      While it is true that we are usually better off listening rather than taking excessive notes, no-one (proctor or examiner) should deem “one” or “any limited number” of note-taking pages to be all that need to be supplied to exam candidates. If you want to fill an entire note or yellow legal pad with notes, that”s your business, not the proctor’s!

      How embarrasing, referring to the exam as a “translation test”. The proctor”s comments and instructions were unprofessional and displayed his ignorance of valid testing procedures. No exam candidate should have to sacrifice points or allocated requests for repetitions, due to technical malfunctions, inaudibility, or confusing instructions.

      My 2 cents’ worth: A strongly worded letter from a labor law or employment attorney, intimating a “desire to settle outstsanding testing issues, short of a class action lawsuit” by affected exam candidates, directed to Mssrs. Duff, Lowney, and Soler may well be in order here. I am certain that one of us can identify such a legal specialist, willing to at least write such a letter on a friendly pro bono basis, or at a reasonable fee.

      • Why a labor law or employment attorney? There is no labor relation here. Just a service provider and customer in a contractual relationship.

      • Joel Bloom says:

        If anyone on this chain read my previous commment, I pointed out that the results weren’t just being delayed due to a slow process, but something was obviously going on here and they are buying time trying to figure it out. As I suspected, I was correct.

        I spoke to Javier Soler today personally and he told me that there was a gigantic error this year. Something went wrong with almost ALL the 122 (or whatever the exact number of examinees was) exams. Due to a malfunction in the equipment, portions of peoples’ exams were not able to be heard.

        I basically told him that the letter we received today from the administrative office of the court is completely unacceptable. The person that wrote that letter just said that there were technical problems that were unexpected, and because of them, the results are delayed and they do not know when the scores will be released. I told Mr. Soler that the letter does nothing to assuage our concerns or reduce our frustration, but rather only further enrages us because the letter states what we already know, and provides no update or concrete date!

        You all should be calling Mr. Soler now too, tomorrow (DO NOT WAIT), and demand to know how they plan on ensuring a fair grading process now if so many portions were lost. He explained to me they will measure the exam components comparatively and attribute percentages to the segments and use those percentages, but in my opinion, that’s all BS and many of us are not going to pass this exam and we will never be entitled to know how or why, or what portions were eliminated.

        In my opinion, if your exam was affected to the point that they cannot give you a fair grade, you should automatically pass (providing the audible portion was outstanding or even satisfactory), because it is not your fault that there was a malfunction with the testing equipment, it is their fault! Mr. Soler mentioned to me that one possible solution would be a re-exam offered, to which I responded, “I can assure you that will NOT be a solution as everyone prepared rigorously for this exam for months and even years, and since the test date, I’m pretty sure nobody has studied a day since to shake off the stress of the whole process and put it behind them. To make people retake this exam would mean people would have to dedicate months of studying again, let alone pay for refresher courses on their test prep education, etc.”.

        Somehow, we will be getting the short end of the stick in this situation. If anyone has an attorney referral please speak up so we can draft a letter representing us all here.

        The worst thing about the letter sent to us today from the guy at the AOC, is that it stated that they have no idea when the results will become available. I can only imagine what they are doing with these botched recordings right now, and how the graders are making their decisions. This is beyond unfortunate now.

      • Paul says:

        Thank you

  • Joel Bloom, I’m glad you spoke with Soler. I called him yesterday and he called me back today, much to my surprise, and even asked me to call him back tomorrow (as he was leaving the office early today). In any case, I will call him back. But I’ve also drafted a letter (email) to him, to Director Duff, and to Chief Lowney, in which I state not only our grievances, but also explain, point by point, why and how their letter is an insult to our intelligence. Just to illustrate my point, I wrote:

    – “… unforseen technical difficulties in the administration of the exam…” Yes, that’s obvious. In fact, it was not even surprising, given the inefficient process of signing up for the exam, the dysfunctional, last-minute test-run exams, and the convoluted process of taking the exam (next to ignorant and unprepared proctors who have no clue what we do or how their system was supposed to work).

    – “… the reporting of test scores will be delayed.” You’re kidding. Right?

    – “The AO will provide … an update … in the coming weeks.” We’ve waited for 5 months. What’s a few more weeks.

    Yes, I know sarcasm isn’t always a good weapon, but … they have GOT to be kidding. And, I used it quite sparingly.

    I did explain that my #1 issue right now is the fact the AO has been silent all this time, and that we feel completely disregarded, disrespected, and that we were taken advantage of by bankrolling their test run for this new company (which I borrowed from someone else in this thread, I think).

    Personally, I would be OK with retaking the exam, with a guarantee that I’ll only have to interpret (without juggling an awkward, dysfunctional testing system), that that it’s at no cost. I suspect not all with agree with me. That’s fine. Plan B for me would be to just get my money back (test fee and travel expenses for the test) and I’ll just keep interpreting in other venues. I’d love to work in the Federal Court system, but … I’m not interested in the BS of the bureaucracy.

    Cheers, everyone.

    • Joel Bloom says:

      Ezequiel, no te conozco pero me gusta tu estilo! I hit Mr. Soler with the same exact points, and believe me, I was not pleasant on the phone with him this morning. I can assume that after speaking with me, he realized he is in for a storm of complaints by people that are not happy.

      Unfortunately, it seems all of us have no further remedy at this juncture, since these incompetent people are now just honestly admitting “Look, this computer glitch is bigger than anything we’ve dealt with in the past, so we have no idea when the results will be mailed out”.

      I’m just scared that examinees will fail unfairly – that’s to say, without knowing what portions of their exams were graded amd what portions were lost, and that seems illegal to me, or unacceptable at least. We must do somethinrg about this, and the first thing in my opinion that’s needs to be done, is that every single person that took this exam needs to call Javier Soler an let him know that if exam portions were lost (which we now know were), the AO better be forthcoming and 100% transparent and spell out exactly which portions of each exam were lost in the grading report that each examinee receives, because if we have no knowledge of what portions were ultimately graded, that means we have no proof the exams were even graded fairly.

      People, please get on this!!!!!! It is to our benefit. We should all be demanding a refund of the testing fee too, that is the least that they owe us for all this disaster.

      • Joel I published your comment on a closed FCICE exam takers group. I called Mr.Soler and expect a phone call. The so called computer glitch was actually Paradigm connecting to a server to access the exam and then upload the responses over the free hotel WiFi. In Colorado Paradigm admitted to not knowing they could pay for premium access.

      • Gracias. 🙂

        By the way, I decided to re-read my email about 30 minutes after I wrote it, before I sent it, and cleaned it up a bit, editing out a little more of the sarcasm.

        Maribel, I heard about the use of the hotel’s free wifi in some locations, which absolutely floored me, and I pointed that out as well in regards to the incompetence of Paradigm and their proctors.

        Have a great Wednesday, everyone.

  • Joel Bloom says:

    The more I think of it, the angrier I get. Maribel Pintado I’d like to touch on your previous comment where you point out what happened in Colorado….

    I don’t really understand why the testing company had to be online to access the exam. If the exam is a pre-recorded exam, why would they have to be online to access a server to access the exam? Also, for whatever reason they needed to be online, and they connected thru the hotel’s cheaper wifi connection and that’s why it botched everything, that’s a joke.

    Can you please explain to me in a little more detail why they would have to access a server in the first place? My understanding of this exam, and it’s possible that I don’t understand it correctly, is that the exam is a pre-recorded test and the proctor just plays the different versions for the examinees, and their responses or renderings are recorded.

    I’m so livid about everything I’m hearing, and the fact that they are considering retesting is only fuel to my fire.

    Please everyone share your comments with us about the conversations you have with Mr. Soler. This is crazy, and at this rate, don’t expect your results any time before June. And when they come, DEMAND to have in writing the exact portions of your exam that were omitted when graded so you can determine if you were even given a fair shot.

    I would like to repeat my most important point: IF THE AO FAILS TO DISCLOSE TO EVERY APPLICANT EXACTLY WHAT PARTS WERE LOST IN THEIR EXAM AND THEREFORE UNGRADED, THEN YOU HAVE NO CLUE IF YOUR EXAM WAS FAIRLY GRADED, OR EVEN GRADED AT ALL.

    Don’t be surprised if they did something as negligent as issue scores that were completely baseless just to make it appear that they recuped the exam recordings, only to save face in this embarrassing debacle.

    • In their letter, they stated that they are “committed to excellence and fairness in the process of testing and identifying …” To which I commented that there’s no way in God’s green earth that these tests could be graded fairly, considering:

      (1) There was so much going on, as we were being tested on our ability to interpret and our ability to manage the confusing and unfamiliar process of clicking buttons to start/stop/go-to-the-next-utterance, all under the pressure of the clock. And, equally important,

      (2) That apparently the majority of the tests are incomplete, likely in different sections, and for different reasons: Some ran out of time, some stopped inadvertently in different parts of the test, some forgot to click to start a recording in different parts of the test, some were kicked off the wifi – at different times of the test, some were given the trial test, so … there’s no possible way to grade consistently, therefore no way to score them fairly.

      I don’t know whether I would have passed a properly-administered test. I’d like to think I did. Like Susana said, I’d be OK with failing a fair test, fair-and-square. I’m not that PO’d any more. I’m starting to feel indifferent about this whole thing. The letter is politician-speak full of words that didn’t really say anything we didn’t know (and I told them that). So I asked them to either re-test me now, on my terms, or send me a reimbursement check for my testing fee and travel expenses.

      Javier Soler called me again today. I was busy and couldn’t take his call. I called him back when I heard his message (after 5), and left him another. At least he’s reached out two days in a row.

      James Duff’s email address came back as “undeliverable”.

  • Susana says:

    Hello colleagues,

    Please refer to Mr. Oliver Renwick’s comments. I am floored!

    Mr. Renwick, of course I am not upset at you! Regards.

  • Theo Leal says:

    Dear Colleagues,

    I have also been affected by this unprecedented travesty in the history of oral federal exams –or any interpreting exam for that matter. At this juncture, with a test marred with technical difficulties, inadequate proctoring, suspicious delays, and all sorts of hindrances to an optimum performance, I don’t think any of us who took the exam can accept whatever results are ever produced, if any. The whole process being so flawed, it follows that the end results would be logically flawed as well. Since when do faulty inputs generate satisfactory outputs? Anything short of retaking the exam administered with proper standards or a full refund would be unacceptable.

  • Disappointed Other Half says:

    WOW! I’m the fiancé of one of the examination candidates, and I myself am frustrated with this debacle. Our lives have been put on hold waiting for the results of this exam. My fiancé studied an entire year for this! One month after the exam, while waiting for the results, all of the tenants where we lived were given a “Termination of Lease” and had 30 days to find a place to live. Our plan was as soon as we got the results, we could now plan where he would apply and we would move to another area. We weren’t looking to sign another years lease, we wanted to move to a different area, but it would be dictated by the results and who was hiring a federal interpreter. Now we had to find a place that didn’t call for a years lease, so we are now rooming with someone. We told them we should have the results by December, early January the latest. I am sure many of the examination candidates have similar stories as to furthering their career and/or life choices. This is so unfortunate the AO didn’t come forth much earlier. They have bought enough time.

    I understand some don’t feel it’s fair to take another test, however, how will one know if this would be a legitimate pass or fail? My fiancé is willing to take the test over without all the other obstacles (button pushing, not knowing where the timer is, paper , proctor without skills and knowledge of the equipment in the room, etc.), being that this isn’t how one really interprets in a courtroom.

    My heart goes out to each of you and your families. Although I am not one of the examination candidates, I am affected from this debacle as well as many other spouses and families.

    At this point, only to be confident results are correct, what about presenting re-taking the test at your convenience, including where one lives to eliminate airfare, or at least have airfare and hotel covered if that’s not possible, a full refund, and results within a week? That gives them 122 tests to correct which will be taken at different times. I don’t really know the logistics of what it takes to correct a test, but this doesn’t seem impossible. I know that my fiancé would like to take it as soon as possible so we can move on with our lives. The other option is to throw up his hands and say “to heck with it, let’s just move on and forget about the exam” altogether. We can do that; it just doesn’t make sense with all the time, money and adjustments made around this exam.

  • Howdy, from San Antonio, on a beautiful Thursday evening.

    I spoke with Mr. Soler a few days ago. He was ready, willing, and able to get on the phone, explain what’s going on (except for a few things that he said he is not at liberty to discuss because they involve relationships with vendors, contracts, etc), hear me out, and answer my questions.

    What is happening: First, all tests have been evaluated by the graders, with regards to our interpretation. Every recording by every candidate has been listened to and evaluated. But with regard to the testing itself, essentially, this thing got so damn complicated, with so many external factors (software and clock management, an awkward platform, bad internet connections, late and faulty practice exams, unprepared proctors, etc etc etc…) that affected our ability to perform, that the Admin Office had to contract an outside group of independent psychometricians to help weigh all of those external factors and come up with a way to make the grading fair and relevant. They will perform an independent evaluation of the administration of the test; not of our ability to interpret. (That’s my way of saying it.) If I understood right, the inconsistencies in the testing environments made this is a necessary step and is the #1 reason this has taken so long. The graders have gone through all the tests, but getting these grading experts required a bidding/awarding/contracting process that … well, you know government. Now, it’s going to take some time for these fine people to get their work done and provide a recommendation to the AO. That’s what the communication “in the next few weeks” refers to. No real, concrete timeline was discussed, much less committed to.

    I did express, quite clearly, that their lack of communication for 5 months and then their half-baked letter were incredibly annoying and added fuel to our fire. Being an FCCI, himself, Javier Soler agreed that he would be extremely pissed (my term, not his) if he were in our shoes. But it’s out of his direct control – as is the ability to communicate, officially, on behalf of the AO. He does not have the authority to do that. I urged them to PLEASE push for the AO to be more transparent and communicate more often to help us, and to help themselves. In any case, he welcomes your phone calls. If you would like, please call him for additional follow-up. Javier Soler, (202) 502-3261.

  • André Csihás, FCCI says:

    I know this is the worst suggestion I’ve ever communicated to anyone on this platform, especially regarding this very difficult endeavor of re-taking one of the toughest exams in the world, but in the interest of fairness and equality, I feel that the Federal exam needs to be administered again AT NO CHARGE to all those who initially took it five months ago. By doing this, it will hopefully dispel any doubts about its accuracy and grading.

    I strongly feel that now that the “technical difficulties” have been forded and everyone is aware of them, a fair shake MUST BE given to these candidates so that they may continue with their professional plans.

    Let’s hope that justice prevails for our colleagues in this undertaking.

    André Csihás, FCCI

    • Joel Bloom says:

      I keep on hearing from many of you that you would be open to taking the exam again. How is that even remotely fair to you?? I’m sure many examinees, like myself, were so happy when this exam was finally over that they haven’t touched a book or study material since! Offering this incompetent board of people the right to simply retest us as a solution lets them win, and doesn’t hold them accountable for their incompetence and for their negligent attempts to cut corners.

      Our first demand, before any of you start telling them another round of retesting would mean a fair shot, should be since this whole system backfired on them and it is THEIR fault, that anyone whose test results were satisfactory or above should automatically pass. In other words, a curve should be applied where there is more leniency to passing if they don’t have the complete recordings – if 80% or better would normally be passing, then it should now be 70% or better, if 70% or better would normally be passing, then it should now be 60% or better, etc.

      If I were to retake this exam, even though I am a working certified state court interpreter, I would still need to study again for all the federal terminology and concepts that I worked so hard on learning to the best of my ability prior to taking this exam. I am not investing more of my time and sacrificing more of my life to study more to retake this rigorous and unnnerving exam because they screwed everything up – AND NEITHER SHOULD YOU!

      When you go to a negotiation table, you definitely don’t start with the best alternative for the other side and the worst alternative for you, you do the contrary, and hope for the best outcome for you! If it’s not met, you usually meet somewhere in the middle, and that middle ground definitely is not us retaking the exam. That alternative falls entirely in their favor and does nothing to hold them responsible for their actions.

      My suggestion is that we collectively demand a 100% reimbursement for this test fee, and that a 10% curve in favor of the interpreter be applied to the grading process and whatever portions of the exam were salvaged.

      I’m blown away that some of you are commenting that a fair shot would be a retake of the exam. Don’t even put this out there to the AO because in doing so, you are short-changing yourself and all of your colleagues that also took this exam!

      • Maribel PINTADO-ESPIET says:

        I will definitely not pick retesting as a 1st option. Before anyone decides to protect the AO in this process, let’s see what they come up with. Then we counter.

      • Susana Gee says:

        Joel,

        I agree 100% with you. I have not looked at any of my notes since September 11th, the day I take the test and frankly have a very bitter taste in my mouth about the whole process. I cannot fathom studying with this bitter taste.
        I already had each and everyone of your points in mind, Re-testing should not be on the table; it is a non-starter.

  • Folks, I disagree. I’d be OK with taking the test again, and here’s why: Most of us are already interpreters working in the judiciary in one way or another. Most of us should have most of the necessary knowledge and skills already. All the studying and preparation we have already done should be relatively fresh if we’ve continued to interpret during the last few months.

    I know there’s a difference between working in a Federal Court versus most other venues. But, if we’ve been in city/municipal/county/state courts, the skills required for the Federal level should be mostly there. Are we saying that once we quit preparing for the test, if we pass it, we no longer need to continue to work on our skills to put them in practice in “the real world” just because we’ve passed the exam?

    Sorry, I don’t buy the “I prepared for a year but now haven’t ‘studied’ for 5 months, and I’m frustrated and stressed and disappointed, so I am and will be totally unprepared, and it would be beneath us, to take the test if offered again in a month or two.” Many people who fail the test take the test again 2 years (TWO YEARS, not 7 months) later, anyway, even paying and traveling and stressing and studying all over again. Many of us have taken it several times. So… I don’t get it. Just because “it’s their fault” I should refuse to take it again, whatever conditions we might be able to negotiate? I don’t agree. It sounds as if you’ve crammed for a college exam only to pass it and then move on to the next class, without regard to whether you really learned, or just studied for the test and forgot the material a week later.

    If given a chance to retake the exam for free, in or near my hometown, and pass it, fair and square, I’d rather do that now and get this over with so I can get to work in Federal Court sooner rather than later.

    • André Csihás, FCCI says:

      Hear, hear!

      I agree with Zeke Quijano as he took the words right out of my mouth: You should already have those skills and YOU DO have them; the only pending issue is that you have not had them validated by a “federal” grading entity.

      I speak from experience because I took my first federal oral exam as a suggestion from a colleague of mine who recommended that I take it “just to see” what it was like. I did it and on my first-time ever, I missed it, but I had the “feel” for it and I was able to compensate for my shortcomings, typical of the novice in our field.

      So, all enthused about it, I waited for the next opportunity and I passed the exam with flying colors and ever since I’ve been tiptoeing through the tulips.

      Don’t despair Joel Bloom, you know more than you think: Please, go for it, take that exam and show them how it’s done. You go, my friend and make us proud! I”m willing to bet that sooner than you think, you’ll be back on this blog thanking us for not having lost faith in you or our other colleagues!

      Finally, to my colleague Zeke Quijano: Looking forward to seeing you at our next Saturday morning breakfast!

      André Csihás, FCCI

      • Joel Bloom says:

        I have zero doubt about my interpreting skills. I’m glad you guys feel confident about retaking the exam as well. However, this discussion has absolutely NOTHING to do with how one feels about their interpreting skills, or how confident they are to retake an exam. You are simply getting ahead of yourselves.

        Do not offer this option to the incompetent group of people that have let you down thus far. If anything, wait to see what they offer you first! You are not in the negotiation seat yet, but for some strange reason you are already offering to go through the hardest part, for them. It makes no sense.

        For all we know, perhaps they can salvage a sufficient portion of the exam in order to grade it fairly, let’s just see. But to offer to retake the exam for them, regardless of how confident one should be because they’re already a working interpreter, is the last thing you should offer.

        I think I’m a phenomenal interpreter and I feel that my skills as of today are strong and polished as I interpret depositions often, but this exam is completely different. In an everyday work setting, you can work around situations as we all know how to do, but in order to pass these exams your game on that day has to be nearly perfect in every way that the graders want to see it. Furthermore, the exam causes anxiety and nervousness leading up to it, and those feelings completely curb how one performs on the actual exam date. We don’t interpret every day with those feelings because we are basically in control when we work. In this exam, you have no control and you enter knowing your every word will be scrutinized microscopically. Last, remember there are some interpreters that do not work daily. Many people who took this exam may interpret once a week, once a month, or even less, and for those people, yes, a retake of this arduous exam would require some weeks or months of refresher study.

        I will not be offering an exam retake as an option. It’s just not a wise business move. You owe them nothing, they owe you an answer, so at this point do not offer anything. My advice is that you let it ride out before you jump to any means of attempting to resolve THEIR problem.

  • It’s clear that, for some, this discussion has EVERYTHING to do with their perceived ability to interpret or take the test, or else this page wouldn’t be plagued with “No way I could retake the test because I haven’t studied since the test.” If some of us are too stressed to take the test, it causes that much anxiety, should that interpreter be placed in a court room where the stakes are so high?

    Personally, the anxiety when I’m interpreting simultaneously in a high-stakes case for a defendant, before a judge or an expert witness who is mumbling at 100 mph, is much higher than the anxiety I may feel when taking a test – ANY test. The certification is only a door to practice in a bigger setting, and that’s all.

    I want a straightforward review of my examination without required, outside, “psychometrician” interference. That’s why I also interpret in as many settings as possible, including at depositions just about every day.

    For others, it seems that this discussion has everything to do with trying to accomplish something I don’t quite get.

    I want to have a Federal Certification that is earned on the same playing field as everyone else’s, and to accomplish that sooner, rather than later. Nothing else. (Well, or get reimbursed for my testing fee and travel expenses, sooner rather than later, as a second option.)

    What happens if some of us were able to get through the exam without any technical issues? I know some of us did. I’m not talking about the candidate’s performance, I’m talking about comparing “complete” vs “incomplete” exams and trying to place them on equal grounds. How can those exams with no tech issues be fairly compared with the ones who did experience technical difficulties? Those that were administered as intended should be (relatively) straightforward exams to review, don’t you think? Why not evaluate and grade those first? Get those out of the way if there’s no issue.

    We are professionals. Who wants to be graded on “salvaged portions” of the exam? Do you think that would be fair to the FCCIs that took the test in prior years and had to be graded on every word they uttered? If I get certified on bits and pieces of my performance, I’d certainly feel like I got a generic brand of the Certification. That’s what I want.

    You say that offering a re-take isn’t “a wise business move,” and you talk about being at the negotiating table, in a position to negotiate. What “business move” and what negotiations are you talking about? Do they need to be punished for what they did in some way? Are we entitled to anything beyond a fair evaluation of our test? OK, they screwed up. We, the candidates and the examining bodies, are not adversaries. I just want to get my score off a completed test, and move on. You say to wait to see what they “offer.” What CAN they offer? I don’t think they have anything to offer other than an apology (which I could care less for), a fixed platform for testing, and better communication. Or they could offer to refund us for exam fees and, hopefully, travel expenses. That’s about it. What do you expect, or want them to offer?

    THEIR problem is that they have a malfunctioning testing platform, they suck at communicating, and they are facing a bunch of upset interpreters. OUR problem is that we weren’t able to perform on the exam we prepared and paid for and that we don’t know what’s going on. Anything beyond that is each person’s personal issue and expectations.

    The only things I expect from Paradigm and/or the AO are to fix the technical issues (or come up with a different way to test), communicate with us openly and frequently, and either let us re-take for free in our home towns so WE can get a fair shot at a blemish-free certification, or give me my money back and I’ll skip working in Federal court while you all keep waiting to get “something” from them, whatever that may be.

    • We continue to debate what “we” and what “they” should or should not do. Until it’s clear what everyone wants the end result to be, we’ll just be venting, complaining about this travesty, licking our wounds, demanding that they do “something,” but still not knowing, as a group, what everyone wants to accomplish.

      I stated in my last post what I want the end result to be. I want to have have a reliable platform to take the test (fix the issues), to have a test graded in the same manner as everyone else’s without the need for outside “help,” and to earn a certification that’s 100% real and genuine, for which I’m perfectly OK with retesting (at no cost). I want a real, clear, pass-or-fail grade. Alternatively, I’d be OK with getting my money back and I’ll do this again when I’m good and ready.

      So, to each of you, what does everyone else want to see happen when this drama finally comes to an end? What’s the ultimate purpose of “negotiating” with the AO? What do we expect them to “offer” us? A passing grade on our exam? To me, if I were graded on an incomplete examination and given a passing grade, it might feel like I won a consolation prize. But that’s just me. How about you? What do you want? I’d really like to know.

      • Susana says:

        Ezequiel,

        There are so many issues at stake here. In my case, I do believe my test was recorded in its entirety. My issue with the test has to do with the reliability of the test that I had to administer. I felt very prepared for the material but the consecutive portion got to me. I simply ran out of time and do not know what percentage I missed.
        So, assuming all my renderings were recorded, except for the portion I missed on the consecutive (due to time), I would like to re-test the consecutive portion only with a live proctor manning the recorder. I do believe this can be achieved at my local state AOC office of each, free of charge, of course.
        If parts of my renderings were lost, then obviously a re-test with a live, trained proctor (free of charge) would be necessary, and all travel expenses paid for.
        Let’s get real, we are dealing with the Federal government here. I hate to admit it but they have all the power.

  • Luis A Perez says:

    It seems to me that any talk about re-testing is indeed premature, since, first, the FCICE has to get the T E S T I N G straight. Given where we are, it´s hard not to conclude that their mere ability to test responsibly has been seriously compromised.

    As to the way the exam was administered in 2017, I can´t wrap my head around the fact that the computers weren’t set up to generate a back up recording —precisely because connectivity issues DO occur. It´s absolutely mind-blowing.

  • Arturo Schubert says:

    Both the AO and Paradigm have been very secretive about the reasons for the delay.
    Initially Paradigm blamed it on a “hurricane”, without an official communication. Their Web site has not been updated in ages. I was able to contact them via phone and later thru their Facebook page. They now blame the AO. The AO sent me a letter after writing to them and pressuring Paradigm. The letter only says they take this matter “seriously”. It provides a name and a phone to call. I have called several times leaving voice messages asking to return my call. They have not. Total silence.
    If you want a copies of the AO letter and the Facebook messages from Paradigm, Please let me know.
    Regards,
    ArturoSchubert@Hotmail.com

  • Michelle says:

    Has anyone received their results yet? I received a letter on April 27 stating the results would come in 8 weeks. That time was up last Friday and still nothing.

  • Luis A Perez says:

    Not even a whisper.

  • Disappointed Other Half says:

    My fiance’ just received the letter that was supposed to be scores that there were too many errors during the oral exam to calculate an accurate score, and that he can take the exam again in 2019 at no charge!! Well isn’t that friggin sweet of them! As he said, this is grounds for a law suit. This is BS!

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