WordBank FAQ

The Lexile® WordBank is a vocabulary resource containing unique words, proper nouns, and terms and phrases from the current top four best-selling textbook programs in science, math, social studies, and reading/English language arts (ELA). It provides curriculum and assessment developers with rich information about the words students will likely encounter in their school reading.

How is the Lexile WordBank delivered?

The Lexile WordBank is delivered as a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet (XLSX) that contains over 40,000 unique words, proper nouns, and terms and phrases.

How are unique words defined in the Lexile WordBank?

A unique word is made up of all its verb tenses and noun pluralizations. For example, ‘jumping’, ‘jumper’, ‘jumps’, and ‘jump’ are all counted together. Homonyms, words with more than one meaning (e.g. lead, force) are not distinguished by meaning. For example, in the Lexile WordBank, force (coercion) and force (physical energy) are treated as one word.

Why are grades 6-8 and 9-12 grouped for word frequency in the WordBank?

Unlike the lower grades, where there are set grade-specific standards/goals supported by grade-specific textbooks, it's not as clear and definite when students get to middle and high school. There is a distinction between middle and high school texts, but there is no standard sequence of word exposure beyond that. This is determined mainly by how states and districts arrange their curricula. Example: Some students will be exposed to a specific text in 6th grade, and others in 8th grade. States and districts recognize there is a range of standards and supports within these grade clusters.

How are proper nouns identified for inclusion in the WordBank?

Proper nouns were identified using automatic part-of-speech tagging. Multi-word proper nouns such as “George Washington” were included as well if both individual words were identified as proper nouns.

How are terms and phrases identified for inclusion in the WordBank?

Multi-word terms and phrases were identified automatically using statistical regularities in word frequency and reviewed by experts to ensure they correspond with meaningful units of language. We currently have 1,600 (or nearly 2,000) of these terms and currently, all multi-word units are academic in nature. As we move forward, we will incorporate non-academic terms.

Are WordBank words assigned Lexile Measures?

Yes, the bank has been recently enhanced to include Lexile word measures for nearly 25k words. These measures indicate how challenging a specific word is.

Why are some words not assigned a Lexile Measure?

Roughly 10,000 words are not assigned a Lexile Measure because they are considered proper nouns, function words, and multi-word units, ex. linear regression (content words), or they are simply words that have multiple meanings, such as "being", where the measure could vary greatly.

Do the Lexile WordBank words incorporate information from the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)?

The Landscape of American School English Corpus and associated Lexile® WordLists are compiled from textbooks prior to Next Generation Science Standards but we are working to integrate additional textbooks incorporating the NGSS.

How were words assigned to grades?

A grade is only specified for academic words that demonstrate a higher frequency of use or obvious utility to a single grade. A grade designation in no way implies that a word is not used or relevant in other grades. There are roughly 6,000 domain-specific and general-academic words with grade information in WordBank. There are many ways to assign words to grades or choose which words are appropriate at which grades and for which purposes. Because of the uneven volume of reading/content at different grades, we assigned a number of target words for each grade and domains based on the relative volume of content in each grade. For example, many words identified as grade 2 words occur in grade 1, but less frequently than other words, so they are assigned to grade 2.

How do I use the other columns to find additional words for a specific domain or grade?

You can use the columns in WordBank to find more words for a domain, or at a specific grade level. Two sets of columns are useful for this: a) the by-grade frequencies and b) the "Likelihood" columns for each domain and for general that indicate the degree to which a word could be considered a 'science' or 'social studies' academic word.

Why are some words not assigned to a domain?

The most common reason why a word is not assigned to a specific domain is that the overall frequency of the word is very low. The words assigned to domains are those students would be more likely to encounter repeatedly. However, if you have a goal of building larger word lists, the additional columns provided in WordBank will help.

Why isn’t there a Reading Academic Word (Yes/No) column?

In general, “reading” is not considered an academic domain in the same way that science, math, and social studies are. As such, we have not yet identified “reading” or ELA academic words. However, the reading bias column can be used to determine how much more likely a word is to occur in a reading textbook that contains both reading passages and instructional content. In a future WordBank release, we hope to offer both ELA content words such as “genre” and “voice” as well as words representative of narrative-specific language.

Is it possible to sample the Lexile WordBank?

Yes, please contact us to request a Lexile WordBank sample containing all of the columns and a subset of words.

Want to learn more?

If you’d like to learn more about it and how it can enrich your products, please contact us for further information.

Phone: 919.547.3400

Toll-Free: 1.888.LEXILES

Fax: 919.547.3401