Federal court interpreter exam candidates’ emotional distress continues.

July 10, 2018 § 13 Comments

Dear colleagues:

On June 30 those who took the federal court interpreter exam in the United States last year, and have not received their test results to this date, found an email from the Administrative Office of the United States Courts (FCICE@ao.uscourts.gov) in their inbox.

Once again, and after all this time, the email was to “provide an update” on the status of the scores. The email explained how all exams have either been scored and equated, or invalidated. The email then goes into a very detailed explanation of the scoring and review of the exams, but it only addresses the news that candidates care about towards the end of the communication by stating that “…no dates have yet been set for the 2018 re-administration of the oral phase of the… examination…” and it then drops the bomb when it indicates that “…dates will most likely not be determined until after November 2018…” and it gives an “assurance” to those who have been victimized by the credibility of the AO since they took the exam last year, that regardless of when the exam is re-administered, “…it will be administered in time… to qualify for the 2019 administration of the oral phase…”

Once again, the email tells nothing to the candidates, and once again it lacks an apology, by now long due to all of our colleagues who have endured this nightmare for so long. The email does nothing to comfort the candidates. Instead of informing them of their scores, it gives them an unusual explanation about the way these scores will be delivered. First, they will receive an email informing them that their score has been snail-mailed through the U.S. Mail. Can you imagine how much longer those candidates who live outside the United States must wait for the letter to get to their mailbox?

The email speaks of the “re-administration” of the test, but it says nothing about the entity in charge of the task. At this point is not known if there will be a new contractor or if the AO itself will administer the exam.

It concerns me to see how the government does not get it. Once again, they distract the candidates from the fact that nothing relevant has changed since the last time they received a letter from the AO, with a lengthy explanation on how the exams have been scored, equated, and reviewed.

The validity of the exam and the integrity and skill of the raters are the only things never questioned by anybody, yet, they continue to dominate the communication to the candidates. What everybody questions is not the exam nor the examiner; the answers everybody is waiting for concern the decision-making process that resulted in contracting paradigm and the accountability of those who made such decision; the readiness of Paradigm to administer an exam like the federal court interpreter certification test, when there was nothing in their background to suggest they could perform the task; and finally, the way the AO has handled the situation after the exam, from its secrecy and lack of transparency, to the delays, to a full report on what they are now doing to hire a capable contractor and to make sure that another fiasco of this enormity never happens again.

The candidates got another email, and from that, they got:

No apology from the AO for all damages caused to the candidates who took the exam.

NO admission of any wrongdoing or even responsibility for retaining Paradigm and for acting the way they have after the exam was administered.

No word on who will be the new retained contractor, or what they will do to re-administer the test. It is very important to know who the new contractor is because candidates will want to know that the selected corporation can handle the administration of both: written and oral tests in 2019.

No date for the retake, just a hint it will probably be after November. This assures all candidates an awful holiday season full of pain and suffering.

Not a word on reimbursement of the fees paid for the exam “administered” by Paradigm, and nothing on covering travel and other expenses for those who had to travel from far away to take the Paradigm exam.

Another development in this shameful saga happened on the written federal court interpreter certification exam: Even though Paradigm’s website still links to the FCICE webpage; the link has been disabled by the AO, and their website now indicates that at this time there is no date for the “summer” written examination, but from a careful reading on the website you can conclude it will be next year.

To mend the biggest fiasco in court interpreting history, people will take both, written and oral tests on the same year, altering the spirit of the exam as originally conceived, and ending a tradition.

Dear friends and colleagues, candidates who took the exam last year and those studying this year for the written test: it looks like you will continue to suffer emotional distress and enormous tension as you are likely to spend your 2018 holiday season studying for a test you had the right to take this year.

I now invite all candidates who took the oral exam, those studying to take the written test, and those certified interpreters who feel for these colleagues, to share their stories of struggle and frustration during this very dark time for court interpreting in America.

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§ 13 Responses to Federal court interpreter exam candidates’ emotional distress continues.

  • Arturo Schubert says:

    Excellent analysis. My response: once I receive an official final response, I will decide what to do next. Do nothing, request a review if failed, request reinbursment of ALL the related expenses, sue AO and/or Paraindigna, research class action… they’ll continue to screw up most probably, so I’ll wait and see what options are there.
    Thank you,

    • Jose M Perez says:

      Well I got the final response and this was the determination taken by the raters of my oral exam:
      On April 27, 2018, you were informed of significant irregularities in the administration of the 2017 oral phase of the Spanish/English FCICE. The Administrative Office (AO) worked with teams of trained raters who reviewed all candidate performances, and psychometricians who analyzed the rater materials and examination administration data. We regret to inform you that after completing the investigation, it was determined that too many errors occurred during your oral examination to calculate an accurate score.
      How many of you got a similar response?

  • Jose M Perez says:

    Totally agree; and the only thing that can be done is wait to determine what action to take.

  • André Csihás, FCCI says:

    Hello again, Tony!

    Just a couple of days ago, I was wondering about the fate of the results for the FCCI exam, but, alas, your opportune anticipation quelled my inquisitiveness to it.

    To this day, and for the love of me, I cannot understand what on earth is going on with this gargantuan transgression to our colleagues.

    My hackles in this issue cannot be raised any higher, as I stand up for my wonderful and talented friends, who so much have sacrificed for this cause and whose effort has been belittled beyond comprehension.

    There has to be poetic justice rendered at some point in this matter; unthinkable otherwise!

    André Csihás, FCCI

  • Susana says:

    Tony, from the wording of your first sentence in this blog:
    ‘…those who took the federal court interpreter exam in the United States last year, and have not received their test results to this date…”
    am I to understand that SOME candidates have received their oral exam results?

    • Dear Susana, thank you for your comments. Although I have no way to know if anybody has received their test results, I can tell you that on the day I wrote this post, and as of today, I do not know of anyone who got his or her score. The sentence you refer to was written thinking of the world-wide audience of this blog, not just the colleagues who took the exam or those who live in the United States.

  • Marcella Alohalani Boido says:

    FYI: Several people have provided me with the text of the AOUSC e-mail of June 29, 2018.

  • The results are in! I did not pass. (But I can take it again, no charge! Instructions to follow… by the end of the year.) LOL…

    • Arturo Schubert says:

      I want my money back including travel. After all the screw ups, I do not trust this result nor that the new exam will not go the same route.

    • Arturo Schubert says:

      I am requesting a refund of the fees and related expenses. Notarized and with return receipt request. The scores seem as murky as everything else
      Not interested in retaking an exam administered by incompetent and untrustworthy people.

    • Don’t let it slip, Zeke, let’s fight this.

  • Marcella Alohalani Boido says:

    When the registration period first opened, I went to the web page for the testing entity and asked a question: Will the oral exam be available in Honolulu? To date, no reply. In retrospect, I feel protected.

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