Researchers estimate 85% of achievement test scores are based on the vocabulary of the standards.1  Our goal is to prevent vocabulary from being the barrier to student success on standardized tests.  To achieve this goal, our department has selected critical vocabulary and Latin/Greek roots to embed into the curriculum of every social studies course.  Our selections for the 2014-15 school year are listed below.


Critical Vocabulary2

  • Analyze – to break something down into its parts
  • Cite – quote
  • Evaluate – find value; judge
  • Interpret – explain the meaning of
  • Paraphrase – put in different words
  • Support – hold up
  • Synthesize – combine to form a more complex product
  • Argument – a reason or set of reasons that something is true
  • Connotative Language – the association a word brings to mind
  • Evidence – knowledge on which to base a belief
  • Point of View – the vantage point from which a story is told or a work is written
  • Rhetoric – the art of writing or speaking effectively

Latin/Greek Roots3

  • Liber – free (ex: liberty)
  • Ques – ask, seek (ex: question)
  • Cede, Ceed, Cess – go, yield, give away (ex: secede)
  • Poli – city (ex: politics)
  • Jud – judge (ex: Judiciary Branch)
  • Dic, Dict – speak, say, tell (ex: dictator)
  • Doc – teach (ex: document)
  • Schola – school (ex: scholarly)
  • Pon, Pos, Posit – place, put (ex: position)
  • Geo – earth (ex: geography)


1, 2: Sprenger, M. (2013) http://www.marileesprenger.com/the-critical-words.html
3: https://www.asdk12.org/MiddleLink/LA/vocabulary/forms/Greek_Latin_Roots.pdf

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