The American Federation of Teachers Educational Research and Dissemination (ER&D) Program is a union-sponsored, research-based professional development program. It was created by the AFT through collaboration between practitioners and researchers to encourage classroom educators to improve their practice and their students’ achievement by becoming users of research.
The AFT has long recognized that a research-grounded knowledge base is essential to professional practice. Through the creation of the ER&D program in 1981, the AFT began a systematic process to translate, codify, and disseminate quality educational research findings about teaching and learning to classroom teachers and paraprofessionals. As a professional development program, the ER&D process is very different from traditional in-service, because it affords K-12 and post-secondary classroom educators the opportunity to gain access to research on teaching and learning in a form that gives them the ability to apply those findings effectively. It also helps participants understand the value of using research finding to guide classroom practice.
The ER&D Program has come to represent one of the union’s effort to make a difference in teacher and paraprofessional performance and professional growth. Through its focus on providing educators with instructional tools to change practice and promote student achievement, it has also enhanced the union’s organizing efforts and been the source of a new kind of union activism.