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Evaluation (ESSE)

What is the E.S.S.E.?

The E.S.S.E. consists of several different tests:


This is a videotaped evaluation of the ability of an individual to understand three different types of signing at three different levels (basic, intermediate and advanced) and three different modes:

The basic level uses simple vocabulary at a fairly slow pace; the intermediate level presents a higher level of vocabulary and a faster pace; the advanced level includes fairly sophisticated vocabulary at a normal rate. The signers are deaf high school students. Each student presents two warm up sentences and ten test sentences. Individuals taking the evaluation write, in English, what they understood the sentence to be. A grid presents the results in terms of the percent of actual signs understood and the percent of sentence meanings grasped for each modality at each level:






The average percent of sentences understood is then assigned a receptive comprehension skill level for each modality as follows:







The ESSE:I consists of videotaped samples of actual classroom teachers and an educational interpreter is asked to interpret as s/he would to students. The interpreter is given a choice of elementary school, middle school, or high school classes. Once the school level is established, a warm-up tape is shown of similar classes. At the end of the warm-up tape thirty seconds of each of the actual classroom teachers that will be interpreted will be shown. Therefore, the individual will know what subjects they will be interpreting and have a brief exposure to the teachers style. The individual can warm up until s/he feels they are ready to be videotaped. The interpreter is videotaped while interpreting three classes, in different subject areas and with different teachers. Each session is approximately 5 minutes in length. This videotape of the interpreter is viewed by a trained panel of five members (consisting of both hearing and deaf) familiar with a variety of signing styles and with education of the K-12 levels. Each of the five panelists completes a rating form with ratings from 1 (low) to 5 (high) for five separate areas: signs, fingerspelling, expressiveness, speechreading and an overall rating. In addition, checklists provide specific information on a number of components in each area and on technical factors such as dress, grooming, indicating speakers, eye contact, etc. The ratings of the five panelists are combined for an average rating in each of the five areas plus the receptive score of the dominant style of the individual. Also included are the pooled panelists comments and feedback on each component. The final rating indicates whether an interpreter is:







The ESSE:T is designed for teachers, aides, or others wishing information on their expressive signing skills when signing for themselves. A 60-word screening test establishes the vocabulary level at basic, intermediate or advanced levels. The individual is then presented with 20 to 25 test sentences constructed with vocabulary at that level or below and including specific visual features such as negation, question marking, directionality, or placement. These sentences are presented on a transparency, and the individual is videotaped while signing them.  The individual is then given a choice of topics appropriate to the school level at which s/he works, time to organize ideas, and then an impromptu presentation on that topic is taped for approximately three minutes. This videotaped sample of signing skills is then rated by the trained panel of five members (which consists of both hearing and deaf), similar to the rating for interpreters described above. In this way, both a vocabulary sample and a more free-flowing, normal signing sample are obtained.

How valid and reliable are these evaluations?  

The ESSE:R has a split-half odd even item correlation of .82 for the PSE segment, .84 for SEE, and .92 for ASL. During 1990-91, 23 individuals who took the ESSE:R rated the instrument 4.25 on a 5 point scale as a valid measure of their receptive skills. Validity and reliability data were collected on the ESSE:I and ESSE:T by evaluating teachers and educational interpreters. During 1988-1990 individuals were evaluated and panelists were trained in Los Angeles, San Diego, and statewide Iowa. Two panels were established for comparative purposes; both panels included evaluators from each of the three areas, and both panels evaluated individuals from each of the three areas to determine whether variance in signing styles, vocabulary, and rural/urban backgrounds would affect the validity or reliability of the process.  In 1990-91, evaluators and test takers were from the San Jose, California area and statewide Oregon. Both the ESSE:I and ESSE:T have excellent reliability and validity coefficients. Reliability was measured by correlations between two independent panels and by the rating of a sample by the same panel after a one year lapse in time.    

What is required to take these evaluations?

The cost of the entire evaluation process (ESSE:R and either ESSE:I or ESSE:T) is $300.00 per person. Dates and sites for the evaluations will be posted on this web site. School districts that have large numbers of interpreters in their program can make arrangements for on site evaluations by contacting the SEE Center. Travel costs will be needed for the person or persons who would be administering the evaluations. The time needed is approximately two hours for the ESSE:R (group administration), and approximately 1/2 to 3/4 hour for the ESSE:I or ESSE:T (individual administration). Individuals being evaluated can expect to receive a detailed 8 to 10 page report plus suggestions in approximately 8 to 10 weeks. They also receive a certificate from the SEE Center indicating the evaluation was taken and the level attained.  

For further information, contact the SEE Center for the Advancement of Deaf Children, P.O.Box 1181, Los Alamitos, CA 90720. (562) 430-1467 voice or TDD

For further training information see our Skillshop section.

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Signs       Sentences


Signs        Sentences


Signs        Sentences













Below 45%



High Basic




High Intermediate




a beginner not ready to interpret


advanced beginning level interpreter skills


Intermediate interpreting skills


advanced intermediate interpreting skills


advanced interpreter skills