What’s Cooking in ATA’s Certification Program

ATA’s Certification Committee and language chairs met for their annual meeting on April 22–23, 2017, in Alexandria, Virginia. (Each exam language combination has a language chair administering the passage selection and graders. ATA currently offers testing in 28 language combinations.) The meeting took place in conjunction with ATA’s Board of Directors meeting. Here are some highlights of what we discussed and what’s in store for the future.

Computerized Exam: One Year and Counting! We just celebrated the first anniversary of the computerized ATA exam, in which candidates bring their own laptops to the site, where they can type their translations and use online and computer-stored databases for research. ATA has held 15 computerized sittings for 199 candidates since April 2016. Chances are there’s a computerized exam coming soon to a site near you!

Exam Candidate Survey: If you’re planning to take a certification exam in the near future, there’s a new feature in the registration process—a short survey that asks the following questions:

  • What is your A language? (Your most proficient one: usually your native language)
  • What are your B/C languages? (Other languages you translate/interpret to or from)
  • Have you taken an ATA practice test? If not, why?

The purpose of the survey is to gather data that might help predict success on the exam.

New Policy for Lapsed Certification: If you have ever been ATA-certified, you probably recall the requirement of submitting 20 continuing education (CE) points every three years to maintain certification. In the event that a certified translator “lapsed” (i.e., did not submit the required CE points and/or discontinued ATA membership), the previous policy was that submitting 20 CE points (and rejoining ATA, if applicable) was sufficient for reinstatement, regardless of the length of time certification had lapsed. The Certification Committee has revised that policy. Now, if certification has lapsed for less than three years, submission of 20 CE points is still sufficient, but if more than three years have passed since the last accumulation of 20 CE points, the individual needs to take the certification exam again. This policy will take effect on January 1, 2018, so if you fall into the “lapsed” category and want to maintain your certification status, be sure to send in your CE credits before the end of this year.

Earn CE Points for Participating in the Buddies Welcome Newbies Program: In case you’re looking for more ways to rack up those CE points, the Certification Committee has decided to award points for those who volunteer to be “Buddies” in the Buddies Welcome Newbies program at ATA’s Annual Conference. For those who don’t know about this program, it’s a mutually rewarding networking opportunity in which “newbies” (first-time attendees) are paired with “buddies” (seasoned attendees). The program is designed to help first-time attendees get the most from their conference experience. Watch for more information about the Buddies/Newbies program on ATA’s conference website as this fall’s conference approaches (www.atanet.org/conf/2017).

Language Chairs Training: The annual grader training for language chairs also took place April 22–23 in Alexandria. More than 60 graders attended from virtually all existing language groups (plus a few up-and-coming ones). Sessions covered a wide range of topics, such as how to keep graders motivated, intersections and purposes of error categories, and the mission of candidate preparation.

Into-English Grading Standards (IEGS): The exam candidate preparation mission includes providing candidates with specific information about what graders are looking for. Toward that goal, there is a set of standards that graders use for marking exams translated into English. That document is quite broad in scope, extending over 50 pages. ATA’s Certification Program now has a dedicated group that is revising and condensing the IEGS to make it a handier reference tool—and one that can be consulted even during computerized exams. The new version will be posted on ATA’s website once it’s ready and approved.

Emerging IT Needs: The language chairs meeting in Alexandria also included a brainstorming session to discuss possible solutions for streamlining processes, including sending exams to graders, marking exams, tabulating results, reporting results to ATA Headquarters and candidates, and assembling a digital database of completed exams for future analysis.

Look for more updates from ATA’s Certification Program in future issues of The ATA Chronicle!

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