Educational Sign Skills Evaluation

What is the E.S.S.E?

The Educational Sign Skills Evaluation (ESSE) is a  state approved test for K-12 educational interpreters.  It was designed to provide a means of identifying the dominant signing style of an individual and to provide meaningful, helpful feedback on areas of strength and areas in need of improvement.  It provides an overall Expressive skills rating as well as information on the type, level, and degree of understanding demonstrated Receptively for both ASL and English-structure signing. 

California State Certification requires scores of 4.0 (80%) or higher on both Expressive & Receptive tests.  

Time Investment

It usually takes about 6 hours for both the Expressive and Receptive tests. 

It is approximately 2 hours for the ESSE:R (group administration), and approximately 3/4 hour for the ESSE:I or ESSE:T Expressive testing (individual administration). 


The ESSE consists of three different tests:


ESSE:I   (Interpreting Skills)

ESSE:T  (Teacher)


ESSE:R  (Receptive Skills)

Trainings for the ESSE


This workshop will review and discuss the expressive and receptive components involved with the ESSE.   Hands-on activities using classroom scenarios and/or materials will provide participants an opportunity to self-assess their sign knowledge of the vocabulary associated with various classroom subjects.  Interpreting speed and fluency will be addressed through the use of timed audio materials. Small group activities will provide receptive and sign-to-voice practice.  In conclusion a “mock” receptive evaluation will be administered followed by a discussion of how the scoring is done.


ESSE Full Evaluation 

$350  (ESSE-I plus ESSE-R)

Expressive Evaluation Only 

$250  (ESSE-Interpreter or Teacher)

Receptive Evaluation Only 

$100  (ESSE-R)         

Special Arrangements

 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.   

ESSE Results

Individuals can expect to receive an extensive detailed 8 to 10 page report in the mail in approximately 90 days. A SEE Center Certificate will also be issued which indicates when the Evaluation was taken and the Evaluation Results. 


ESSE Training Workshops are scheduled on select Saturdays from 9:00 am-4:30 pm (6 hrs) with a 1/2 hour lunch break.

 Interested applicants can Subscribe to the SEE Center Email List on the Home page.  

We will then notify you via email when we schedule a new ESSE Training Workshop.  Applicants can then Register below for the date and location they want to attend.   



Upcoming Workshops

Fine Tune Your Interpreting Skills

 This in-person Workshop includes a discussion of the ESSE rubric and has activities designed to develop and enhance your sign vocabulary, fingerspelling, and overall interpreting skills. 

TBD 2019


Irvine, CA


Cost $60 - Early Registration  (When Register 7+ days before event)

Cost $75 - When Register <7 days before event)

Register HERE (for scheduled dates)

ESSE Process Webinar

Learn about the ESSE from the comfort of your home or office.   

This 60-minute ONLINE interactive session will explain the process of the ESSE and what to expect the day of the assessment for those who have never taken the ESSE.

Topics include:

- Set-up and scoring procedures for the receptive portion.

- Discussion of the Evaluation form which explains the individual components that are rated by the evaluation panel. 

Webinars are offered via the free ZOOM application.  You will need Internet access and a computer with a webcam.  

Please Download the free ZOOM app and run the free audio & visual test before registering for a webinar to ensure you will get the maximum benefit from this interactive webinar.  Check it out!  



Interested applicants can Subscribe to the SEE Center Email List on the Home page.  

We will then notify you via email when new ESSE Process Webinars are scheduled.  

Applicants can then Register 

for the date they want to attend. 

TBD 2019

Sat. 10:00-11:00 AM PST

Cost $20 - Early Registration 

(When Register 2+ days before event)

Cost $25 - If Register <2 days before event)

Register HERE (for scheduled dates)

NOTE:  The Fine Tune Workshop also covers this information so you do not need to sign up for this Webinar if you attend the Fine Tune training Workshop.

Zoom Instructions (docx)


ESSE Evaluations


ESSE assessments are scheduled throughout each year, usually in Irvine (Southern CA) and occasionally in Merced CA (Northern & Central CA). 

They may also be given in Wichita KS or Omaha NE by appointment only.

Schools Districts can also request assessments for 10 or more interpreters, and negotiate special dates with the SEE Center. 

We ask interested applicants to  Subscribe to the SEE Center Email List on the Home page.    We will then automatically notify you via email when we schedule a new ESSE Evaluation.  Applicants can then Register for the date and location they want to attend. 

The Evaluations are typically held at local schools and last from 9am until 4:30pm.  The exact locations and scheduled times are sent to the Registered applicants the week of the assessment.

Subscibe  (Add to monthly Email list)

See below to Register for an Upcoming Assessment when dates are posted.

Irvine, CA

Oct. 6, 2018 FULL

Merced, CA

Winter 2018 (TBD)

Register HERE

Wichita, KS

Winter 2018 (TBD)

Register HERE

ESSE Registration

Click HERE to register for testing

Click HERE to register for training

Evaluation Results Schedule

Wichita, KS

      Test date  3/10/18             

           Results Mailed                      


Irvine, CA

Test date  6/3/18 

Results Mailed


Merced, CA

Test Date  3/3/18

Results Mailed 


Do You Need A Duplicate ESSE Certificate?


More about the ESSE

What is the ESSE?


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 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.