Academic Vocabulary

In an effort to improve reading comprehension at Franklin County High School, we are attempting to systematically enhance the academic vocabulary of our students. The research and theory underlying the recommendations made here have been detailed in the book Building Background Knowledge for Academic Achievement (Marzano, 2004). Briefly, the logic of such an endeavor is that the more general background knowledge a student has about the academic content that will be addressed in a given class or course, the easier it is for the student to understand and learn the new content addressed in that class or course. Unfortunately because of a variety of factors, including differences in the extent to which experiences at home help enhance academic background knowledge, students transferring from one school to another or one district to another, and so on, there is typically great disparity in the academic background knowledge of students, and this disparity increases as student’s progress through the school years. However, if a district (or school) were to systematically ensure that all students were exposed to specific academic terms and phrases across the grade levels, this would form a strong common foundation for all students. To this end, the following lists include vocabulary terms critical to academic success as identified by Franklin County High School staff members.