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 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 2.5 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 1 Expressive and

 1 Receptive Test:


ESSE:I   (Interpreting Skills)

ESSE:T  (Teacher)


ESSE:R  (Receptive Skills)

Training for the ESSE


The ESSE Process Webinar is a 60 minute online class intended for those interpreters who have never taken the Educational Sign Skills Evaluation.

The Fine Tune Your Interpreting Skills iis an in-person 6 hour intensive training Workshop designed to evaluate and provide interpreters with the skills needed to interpret in the educational environment.  This class is for all signing styles and those working towards taking the ESSE for State Certification. 


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 with large numbers of interpreters in their program can make special 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 is also issued when Expressive scores are 2.0 or greater, and it indicates when the Evaluation was taken and the Evaluation Results. 

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. 

June 1, 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 same information so you do not need to sign up for this Webinar if you attend the Fine Tune training Workshop.

ZOOM Instructions

Zoom Instructions (docx)



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 e-mail list on the Home Page.  

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


 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. 

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. 

June 1, 2019


Irvine, CA


Cost $75  (6 hours)

Register HERE (for scheduled dates).

ESSE Evaluations


ESSE assessments are scheduled throughout the year, usually in Irvine (Southern CA) and occasionally in San Jose CA (Northern & Central CA). They may also be given in Wichita KS or Omaha NE by appointment only.

Schools Districts requesting assessments for 10 or more interpreters, can 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. 

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.

Upcoming Evaluations

Irvine, CA


June 15, 2019

 9 am - 4 pm 

 Register HERE 

San Jose, CA


TBD 2019

9 am - 4 pm

Register HERE



TBD 2019

 9 am - 4 pm 

 Register HERE 


ESSE Registration

Click HERE to register for Testing

Click HERE to register for Training

Evaluation Results Schedule

Wichita, KS

  Feb 9, 2019         

           Results Sent                  


Irvine, CA

Test date  4/13/19

Results Expected by 7/13/19


San Jose, CA

Test Date 3/30/19 

 Results Expected by 6/29/19 


Do You Need A Duplicate ESSE Certificate?



More about the ESSE


What is the ESSE?

ESSE: I (Interpreter)

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, finger-spelling, expressiveness, speech reading 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.

ESSE:T (Teacher)

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.

ESSE: R (Receptive)

The Receptive Skills Evaluation will measure understanding of 3 types of signing:  Pidgin Signed English (PSE), Signing Exact English (SEE) and American Sign Language (ASL).

Each signing type will then present 3 vocabulary levels:  Basic, Intermediate and Advanced.  Each level signs two warm-up sentences and ten test sentences in each type of signing.  Three deaf high school students are the signers.  The same student signs each type (PSE, SEE, ASL) for all 3 (Basic, Int, Adv) vocabulary levels.

The Receptive results will show 2 scores for each level.  The first score indicates the percentage of signs that were correct.  The second score indicates the percentage of how well the entire sentence was understood.  The sentences are scored on an all-or nothing basis for each sentence. Sometimes individual signs missed did not affect the ability to understand the concept of the sentence.  Other times, missing one key word meant missing the overall meaning of the sentence.

You only need to be proficient in 1 of the 3 signing types but if you are proficient in more than 1 signing mode, the additional modes will also be posted on your ESSE Certificate.

The Receptive Evaluation takes approximately 2.5 hours which includes break times between each level of the exam.


Understanding Your ESSE Test Results

The ESSE Evaluation Results will show a score for each the Expressive Test and the Receptive Test.  A passing score of 4.0 and above is required in both sections in order to meet the requirement for CA Dept of Education State Certification. 

If you receive a level 4.0 or greater on only 1 section, you can retake the section under 4.0 at a future date.  No wait time is required. You do not need to retake the portion passed with 4.0 or higher.  

We typically schedule the ESSE Evaluations about every 3 months.  This gives us time to compile the results of the 5 evaluators and return the results to the test takers.  The  interpreters can then review their evaluation scores and the detailed analysis to focus on improving the areas recommended on the evaluation feedback.

Scorng Rubric:  Interpreter Accuracy

 1.0  Not Ready to Interpret  (20%)

2.0  Beginning Interpreter    (40%)

3.0  Good/Fair                       (60%)

4.0  Very Good                      (80%)

5,0  Excellent                         (100%)