The ATA Chronicle - November/December 2020 - 35

CERTIFICATION FORUM

BY DAVID STEPHENSON

Enhancing the Status of ATA Certification

T

he year 2020 is one that few people
will likely forget or look back on
fondly. The severity of the pandemic
combined with-in the U.S. at least-
various social issues has upended many
lives. For ATA's Certification Program, the
effects have manifested themselves in two
interrelated outcomes: a sharp reduction
in exam sittings owing to local restrictions
on gatherings, and a renewed focus on
providing a remote online testing option.
In the early months of the crisis,
as most areas were in some form of
lockdown, several previously scheduled
exam sittings had to be canceled, and
it was not until July that a protocol was
developed for holding sittings safely.
Since then, four sittings have been held
involving 30 candidates-a far cry from
the more than 400 people who take the
exam in a typical year.
The difficulties of holding in-person
sittings can be obviated by adopting a
workable model for administering the
exam remotely (i.e., with candidates
taking it at home on their own computer).
This has long been an aspiration of the
Certification Program, but past efforts to
move in that direction have been stymied
by an inability to identify vendors that
can meet our requirements with regard
to language/keyboard support, internet
access, and, above all, security. Still, great
strides have been made in the remote
testing sector, even before the pandemic
spurred greater interest in and demand
for a variety of offerings. At this point,
I can say that we're very optimistic
about having a home testing option
in place within the next year without
compromising any of our standards.
Another challenge facing the
Certification Committee is the
implementation of the Knapp review.1 Last
winter, the Board commissioned Knapp &
Associates International to review the 2000
Hamm Report2 with an eye to validating its
findings. Knapp concluded that the vast
majority of Hamm's recommendations
remain valid, so the Committee was
tasked with drawing up a roadmap for
implementing the Knapp review findings
or-where appropriate-presenting
justification for not implementing
individual recommendations.
www.atanet.org

During a Zoom meeting in July, the
Certification Committee developed
such a preliminary roadmap, which it
presented to the Board. The identified
short-term goals include formulating
a more definitive statement describing
the level of performance targeted by
the credential (which has since been
completed), developing a discipline policy
to address behavior or practices that are
unacceptable to the Certification Program
(to be implemented in conjunction with
the Ethics Committee), and reconsidering
the current appeals policy. Medium-term
objectives include developing an online
grader training module, formulating
revised eligibility requirements, exploring
ways to give candidates more feedback
on their performance, and establishing
high-level strategic goals. Much of this
will be rather labor-intensive, and progress
will depend on efforts made by dedicated
volunteers. But the Certification Committee
will press forward, always in the interest of
enhancing the status of ATA Certification.
This is my last column as Certification
Committee chair. It's been my honor to
serve in that position for six years, after

five years as deputy chair. During that
period, the program has undergone many
changes, not least of all the final transition
to computerized testing. I'm confident
that the Certification Program will remain
a robust asset no matter what challenges
arise, under the capable leadership of
Michèle Hansen and Larry Bogoslaw.
NOTES
1.	
Knapp, Lorena. " Certification Consultant's
Statement on the Membership
Requirement for ATA Certification, " The
ATA Chronicle (July/August 2020), 12,
http://bit.ly/consultant-statement.
2.	

ATA Accreditation Program Report
(Michael Hamm & Associates, 2000),
http://bit.ly/Hamm-report.

David Stephenson, CT is
the outgoing chair of ATA's
Certification Committee. An
ATA-certified German>English,
Dutch>English, and
Croatian>English translator, he
has been an independent translator for over 30 years,
specializing in civil litigation and creative nonfiction.
Contact: david@stephensontranslations.com.

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35


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The ATA Chronicle - November/December 2020

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