Use of a Language Translator for Standardized Assessments
When administering a standardized assessment, it is important that examiners follow standardization procedures as closely as possible. Adherence to standardization is what allows examiners to make justifications regarding their examinee’s abilities when compared to their peers within a normative sample.
All examiners seeking use of a translator are cautioned regarding the reliability of the scores. Administering and scoring a test with the aid of a translator does not adhere to standardization procedures, and as such, derived scores may not be valid.
Examiners must document any deviations from the standardized administration procedures on their test records, and within the final report. The report should state how the examinee’s language differences and/or the altering of the standardized administration procedures (i.e., utilization of a translator) may have affected the person’s scores, possibly underestimating, or overestimating, actual achievement levels.
If an examiner chooses to use a translator despite derived data possibly being less reliable and valid, it is recommended that the examiner ensure that the translator is proficient in all languages that will be a part of the assessment. Furthermore, it is the examiner’s responsibility to ensure the translator understands the standardized conditions under which testing must occur. Outside of translating necessary information, it is the examiner’s responsibility to ensure that the translator’s involvement in the assessment is otherwise minimal. The examiner must explain to the translator that it is important that they do not assist the examinee in any way during the testing sessions. The examiner also must explain the significance of test security.
Prior to beginning the assessment, it may be beneficial for the translator to be involved in rapport-building with the examinee. As part of the rapport-building process, it may be beneficial for the examiner to explain to the examinee the purpose of the translator, especially if the examinee has not utilized a translator previously.
In summary, although examiner’s can use translators when administering tests to examinees with language differences, it is always preferred that examinees be administered tests that have been standardized and normed in their dominant language. Use of a translator is cautioned, as resulting scores may not be valid.