How to Choose an Assessment Translation Company
As if test publishing wasn’t complicated enough, now you need a translation. And you know the high stakes involved with test and assessment translation. From planning and execution to final delivery and reporting, everything needs to be perfect. Of course, every translation company you approach says they can handle the job, but can they really? With so much on the line, what should you be looking for?
The five most important factors to consider when choosing a translation company for test and assessment translation include: experience, translator and in-country SME qualifications, equivalency, psychometric savvy and a defensible process.
Does the translation company have experience in managing assessment translation projects and serving the test and assessment industry? Experienced translation providers with experienced project managers don’t waste time on a learning curve. They know how to plan and how to execute, what pitfalls to look out for and how to avoid them, and how to produce the highest quality assessment translation you can get your hands on.
Translator and In-Country SME Qualifications
Why are a company’s translators qualified to do this particular type of translation? After all, one translator is not as good as the next one. Bad translations are created by unqualified translators and teams that don’t know their subject. A translator or subject matter expert must be specialized in the field for which he or she is called upon to translate, particularly in the case of assessments, which require an unrelenting precision.
Is your translation team talking cognitive analysis even before translation begins? Content equivalency is what translators do, but is it being done semantically too? Translation teams need to be experienced in the methods used to ensure test balance across multiple languages, and to contribute or manage the various methods used to ensure equivalence in multiple languages.
Mastery of cognitive and linguistic analyses are the safety valves in any testing and assessment translation: you always want to have them in place.
Are your translators translating through to validation? A translation company than can lead that process can save clients a lot of trouble. Once translation is complete, can your provider assist with validation of results through psychometric review with the appropriate audience of test takers? In-country psychometrician resources on the languages services side can help in execution for busy test publishers.
Are they active contributors or leaders in the review committee responsible for test integrity? Translation teams experienced in testing validation and review can make crucial contributions, especially for test publishers venturing out of English for the first time.
A Defensible Process
It is the honor of all test makers to publish a fair test. It is the obligation of all test makers to be able to demonstrate that an assessment was developed consistent with those goals. This is doubly true for tests in a second language and can multiply from there. Will your language service provider be able to prove the same level of proof when asked? If problems arise, can you rely on your translation company to demonstrate the integrity of the translation in all its facets, as a quality product of a methodical and rigorous process sanctioned by experts in the field? If the answer is yes, the much more likely benefit is peace of mind.
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