OPUS Case Example
Kami is a 15-year, 5-month-old ninth grade student at a public high school. She was referred for reevaluation of her special education placement and her diagnosis of expressive and/or receptive language disorder. The purpose of this OPUS assessment is to determine how Kami’s listening comprehension compares with her same-age peers, identify areas of strength and weakness, to help plan appropriate goals, and to update her Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals.
Kami was diagnosed while in third grade and deemed eligible for special education services at that time. Based on teacher and parent comments that were corroborated by observation, Kami demonstrates difficulty in understanding verbal directions, expressing ideas verbally in class, and understanding complex written text. Kami currently attends regular education classes for most subjects and has 8 to 10 hours of pull-out language services per week.
Kami was administered the OPUS because its content is consistent with the type of material she is expected to learn in her classes and is therefore a good indication of her potential for success in class. Kami’s OPUS standard score was 82, which is in the Below Average range and corresponds to a percentile rank of 12, meaning that she performed better than 12% of the standardization sample. This score provides further evidence of her difficulties with listening comprehension.
The two passages that appeared most difficult for Kami involved unfamiliar information and figurative language. She was more successful understanding the passages that presented information in a more literal way. A closer examination of her item-level performance revealed a relative strength in her ability to recall specific details from the passages. She was able to recall information that was a meaningful part of the story, as well as information like names and places. Kami demonstrated difficulty in her ability to infer meaning from the passage when something was not explicitly stated. She struggled to formulate responses that required interpretation, reasoning, and inference. This is consistent with her teachers’ comments that she struggles much more with comprehension of abstract content.
Kami also scored lower on her knowledge of vocabulary (semantics). She was able to define some individual words; however, she had more difficulty providing a synonym for a given word. Such a task requires more cognitive processing than simply defining a word, and therefore is more complex.
After the OPUS administration was completed, Kami stated there were a few times when she could not remember something and wanted it repeated, but understood that repetition was not allowed. This is important information because teachers, parents, and other adults may need to repeat information or instructions to facilitate her comprehension. Her scores reflect the difficulty she experiences when additional assistance is not provided.
Based on the results of the OPUS, it is recommended that Kami retains her current educational supports, and that intervention focus on vocabulary knowledge and comprehension of abstract information.