Critical Verbs for PARCC

Understanding the Critical Verbs


Q: What are the “critical verbs”


A: The critical verbs are 27 standards-based verbs from the book Teaching The Critical Vocabulary Of The Common Core: 55 Words That Make Or Break Student Understanding.  These words will be used throughout the ARIS curriculum and on the PARCC test. Our initiative aims to prepare students for the vocabulary they will encounter so that they may best demonstrate their understanding of concepts and ideas.


Q: Why are these critical verbs important to my child’s success?


A: Picture this scenario:

A student reads a selected text. While reading, the working memory of the brain holds on to the new information while drawing on long-term memories previously stored to help comprehend what was read. When reading the accompanying questions that relate to the selections, there must be a previous understanding of the vocabulary so not to use any of the working memory space that is now designated as a holding port for the comprehension of the reading selections.


The student should automatically know and comprehend what the question is asking without skipping a beat. If the question is not understood, a few different situations can follow. First they might ponder the wording of the question. In the scenario, the word was analyze. “Analyze. What is that?  I know I have heard it before.  But how do I analyze something?”  Without previous understanding of the word a student either takes time to figure out what it means and continues with the task or does not and struggles to answer. In either case, time is lost trying to navigate the question rather than on correctly answering. When students understand the verbs, they are able to do the task effectively and efficiently!


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