Victorian bushfires claim leading educational researcher

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Monday, 16 Feb 2009

MEDIA RELEASE For immediate release: Monday 16 February 2009 Victorian bushfires claim leading educational researcher The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) is mourning the loss of Dr Ken Rowe who died in Victoria’s recent bushfires. Dr Rowe was alone at his family’s property in Marysville when the town was devastated by fire. “Ken’s loss is being deeply felt not only by colleagues at ACER where he had worked for eight years, but across the entire education community,” said ACER Chief Executive Professor Geoff Masters. “We are all simply devastated by this awful news.” “Ken was an outstanding leader, researcher and educational thinker. He was passionate about many things, including the importance of basing educational policies and practices on sound scientific evidence. “He was a strong advocate for the wider use of quantitative methods in social science research and regularly conducted high-level methodological training for researchers. Ken also took every opportunity to highlight the fundamental importance of quality teaching to improved student learning,” Professor Masters said. Dr Ken Rowe joined ACER in February 2000 as a principal research fellow before becoming the Director of the Learning Processes and Contexts Research Program. Prior to joining ACER, Dr Rowe was Principal Research Fellow and Associate Professor in the Centre for Applied Educational Research at the University of Melbourne (1993-99), Senior Research Officer in the Department of Education, Victoria (1986-92), Commonwealth Relations Trust Fellow at the University of London Institute of Education (1984-85), teacher and principal in Victorian government schools (1967-83). Dr Rowe believed strongly in the importance of quality teachers and teaching. Throughout his time with ACER, Dr Rowe delivered many conference presentations in which he argued that nothing was more important to children’s educational outcomes than the quality of their teacher. In 2004 Dr Rowe was appointed by the then Federal Minister for Education, Dr Brendan Nelson, to head the National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy. The inquiry handed down its much anticipated report in December 2005. It stressed again that teachers are the most valuable resource available to schools and urged that they be equipped with evidence-based teaching practices that are demonstrably effective in meeting the developmental and learning needs of all children. With his wife Dr Kathy Rowe, a consultant physician in the Department of General Medicine at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital, Dr Rowe investigated the overlap between education and health. They studied, for example, the link between children’s auditory processing (the ability to hold, sequence and process accurately what is heard) and found it to be linked strongly to initial and subsequent literacy development, as well as to children’s attentive behaviours in the classroom. Along with their colleague Jan Pollard, an Audiological Services Specialist from Sonic Innovations Pty Ltd, the Rowes received the Rue Wright Memorial Award from the Royal Australasian College of Physicians in Wellington in May 2005. Among his many other achievements Dr Rowe was a member of the Board of Directors for the Carrick Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, a national training consultant and instructor (since 1991) for the summer and winter programs conducted by the Australian Consortium for Social and Political Research Incorporated (ACSPRI) and a leading exponent of multilevel, structural equation modelling. During his career Dr Rowe authored or co-authored 37 books or chapters in books, 55 monographs, 75 papers in peer-reviewed journals, 86 contract research/evaluation reports, 3 computer software application packages, and presented more than 250 conference papers and invited keynote addresses. Professor Masters said that Dr Rowe had taken an active interest in the professional development of colleagues and had been a highly valued mentor to more junior researchers. “Ken was deeply committed to his work, was courageous in speaking out against education practices that had little or no support in research, and took a genuine interest in the lives and wellbeing of his colleagues.” Dr Rowe had officially retired from ACER during 2008 for health reasons but continued to work with ACER on a consulting basis and maintained strong links with his colleagues. At the time of his death he was busy conducting workshops on measurement and multilevel modelling in a number of universities and for Graduate Careers Australia (GCA), and had begun work on a book. He will be deeply missed and the thoughts and prayers of all at ACER are with his family. ****************ENDS************* Media enquiries: Louise Reynolds Corporate Publicity and Communications Manager Phone: (03) 9277 5582 Mobile: 0419 340 058 Email: