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Educational Research and Dissemination Program

What is ER&D?

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. As a professional development program, the ER&D process is very different from traditional in-service, because it affords preK-12 and postsecondary 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 practitioners understand the value of using research findings to guide classroom practice.

In 1990, ER&D expanded its reach to include classroom paraprofessionals. Further recognizing the invaluable contributions non-classroom staff make to maintaining safe and orderly learning environments, and realizing the lack of training and support for such staff, ER&D in 1997 introduced a research-based course on managing student behavior in non-classroom settings for all school-related personnel.

The ER&D Program has come to represent one of the union’s major efforts to improve student achievement by making a difference in teacher, paraprofessional and school-related personnel performance and professional growth. Through its focus on providing educators with instructional tools to change practice and promote student achievement, it has enhanced the union’s organizing efforts and been the source of a new kind of union activism.

What makes ER&D different?

Classroom practitioners have long been subjected to in-service sessions that, all too often, they rate as not being very worthwhile. As the organizational representatives of teachers, paraprofessionals, and school-related personnel, the AFT has constructed a professional development program that is meant to be an ongoing process, rather than an in-service event. The ER&D Program is committed to:

  • providing credible, research-based information;
  • offering a non-threatening, non-judgmental learning environment;
  • providing opportunities for thoughtful discussion about teaching and learning with colleagues and researchers;
  • providing opportunities for self-reflection and collegial inquiry;
  • making a process available that allows for individual understanding and implementation of instructional strategies that result in real change in practice;
  • providing opportunities for professional growth, continuous learning and validation of existing practice; and
  • offering a program that builds a sense of pride in the quality of a union service.

What do ER&D participants learn?

Participants in the ER&D Program learn research-based concepts and instructional strategies through:

ER&D Research Translations
All information resources used in the ER&D program originate from a sound research base. It is our belief that classroom educators should have access to empirically tested knowledge to guide their practice. The AFT has collaborated with leading researchers in the field of education to provide reliable information on best practice in a wide variety of classroom management and instructional strategies, and in teaching curriculum content. This knowledge is synthesized in ER&D research translations, which present the findings in a user-friendly format without distorting the implications of the original research results.

Classroom-Based Activities
The application of research translations to classroom practice is reinforced by classroom-based training activities, which are designed to help participants transfer what they have learned for use in the classroom. The training represents and models the full range of activities that research says provides the most effective adult learning experiences. These activities include small group interaction, role-play, case studies, simulations, Socratic seminars, and shared reflection.

How does the ER&D Program meet the guidelines of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001?

The Legislation Specifies:

  • Strategies based on scientific research
    All ER&D courses are based on scientific research that has been translated for classroom application.

  • Increased subject-matter knowledge
    ER&D reading and math courses increase subject-matter knowledge and teaching expertise as they examine how students acquire specific skills and knowledge.

  • Improved classroom management skills
    Classroom management skills are addressed in general settings and in the context of the subject-matter courses offered.

  • A sustained, intensive, and classroom-focused experience
    - Each ER&D course is a minimum of 30 to 45 hours and requires interactive participation around research findings and their classroom applications.
    - ER&D courses are taught by practitioners who have increased their knowledge and credibility by applying the research in real school settings.
    - Teachers and researchers are involved in developing the materials.

  • Experiences to help students meet high standards
    Specific materials to help teachers understand how standards-based instruction differs from traditional practice.

What training for high-poverty and improvement schools does ER&D offer?

  • Classroom Management — establishing the learning environment, managing student behavior, interactive instructional strategies, effective homework and maximizing time on task.

  • Reading — beginning reading, early intervention strategies and comprehension for K-12.

  • Mathematics — number, quantity, operations, mathematical patterns and relationships, mathematics in context and problem solving in elementary and middle school.

  • Parental Involvement — how to effectively engage families, caregivers and the community in students' education.

  • Teaching to Standards — planning instruction by first examining what standards mean and thinking about how to assess them, based on your local/state standards.

  • Behavior Management — strategies for students with severe behavior problems. Courses for classroom and other school personnel.