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Preparing For CAECS-E

It is never easy to subject yourself to evaluation. However, the best way to get yourself ready and to ensure your success with standardized testing is to make sure you are prepared.

Know the test

For any standarized test you undertake there are a few things you should know before you begin:

  1. What is the test designed to measure?
  2. How is the test formatted?
  3. How is the test scored and ratings assigned?

The CAECS-E is an expressive cueing test. Unlike test that have preceded it, the CAECS-E does not simply evaluate how to put a hand shape and placement together. This screening has been designed to look at all of the essential, basic components that make cued English complete. What does that mean for you? It means that you will get the most accurate assessment of your basic cueing skills and diagnostic feedback to ensure that your skills will continue to develop. What exactly are these skills that are examined through the CAECS?

Understanding the goal

The purpose of the CAECS is to provide objective assurance that your cueing skills are consistently clear and accurate. The screening does not measure speed, nor does the test evaluate your abilities as a transliterator or as an instructor. This screening solely measure your ability to render a message through cued English. The test has been designed to ensure that you understand and are able to cue all of the hand shapes and placements/ movements in the cued American English system. Further, the screening ensures that you are able to apply the system to the English language, rendering it clearly and accurately. For example:

  • You will be evaluated on your ability to distinguish between voiced and voiceless “th” as in think, other, them, and thorn.
  • You are expected to readily model /s/ and /z/ appropriately in words like weeds, pencils, carts, and easy.
  • Your ability to identify the reduced vowels in such words as kitchen, taken, lifted, and control will be measured.
  • Such features as flicks and liaisons are scored, as are meaningful prosodic features such as stress, intonation, and rhythm.

Cuer in training

Whoever said that you would be done after 20 hours of instruction was sorely mistaken. After you have completed your introductory class, it is possible that you misperceived, misunderstood, or just simply missed something.You should expect to continue your training beyond your initial introductory course. No matter who taught you to cue, you should expect to study with other instructors to ensure that what you have learned is the accepted standard. Anyone can make a mistake. And any mistakes from your instructor are now yours with a few of your own thrown in. In addition to training with live, qualified instructors, you may be able to purchase instructional videos, participate in professional discussions online, undergo diagnostics by mail, and perform self-assessment techniques. If you have other cuers in your area, you may wish to organize a regular study group.

Preparing for the format

You will be videotaped cueing from prepared, printed materials. If this format is uncomfortable for you or if you are uneasy at the thought of performing in front of a camera, you should begin preparing early. Devote some regular time to videotaping yourself cueing from a book or from worksheets. View your tape with the eye of a rater. How would you rate your performance? Do you regularly encounter words that you are unsure how to cue?

Scoring and levels

There are six task sections that comprise the CAECS-E. The testee cues at both the word and sentence level and is rated under the following headings: vowels, consonant/vowels, sentence/comprehensive, discourse, form, and prosody. Within each section, basic inaccuracies, omissions, insertions, and ambiguities are recorded and tallied. Percentages are calculated in order to determine the individual score from one to four for each task section. A cuer can make approximately eighteen (18) errors in the sentence portion and still receive a rating of four for that section.The section ratings are then averaged to determine the overall score and the level to be awarded. It is important to note that a cuer can fail any one section of the test and still receive an overall score ranging within the highest level awarded.

Plan ahead

This test is a prerequisite for the national certification exams for transliterators as well as for instructors of cued English. The entire process from application, through testing, to scoring and notification can take between four to six weeks. It is not advised to allot only that amount of time prior to the registration deadline for a national certification exam. Test early! Be sure to allow yourself enough time to re-take the CAECS if necessary and to assimilate some of the new information you will discover in your feedback. Cuers who retake the test immediately after receiving their CAECS-E results tend to correct some of the previous mistakes, while incorporating new ones. Forcing oneself to model unfamiliar mechanics before they have been assimilated causes many cuers to sacrifice those positive features that they had already acquired. Be sure that in addition to knowing as much about the test as you can, also know yourself. Only you can ensure that you have the tools you need to succeed.