Colleges, like factories, need to work with their “supplier community” to improve the quality of the raw materials they end up shaping, a business leader told a group of about 120 college leaders and state policy makers gathered in Washington Monday for a summit on higher education’s role in improving America’s high schools.

“You want products to come to your factory that are suitable,” Craig Barrett, chairman of the Intel Corporation’s board said in industry speak, pragmatically pointing to a challenge for higher education that so often is couched in more tender terms.

Speakers at Monday’s “Advancing College Readiness” summit outlined the role higher education leaders should play in ensuring that high school graduates learn the right skills and graduate ready for college and the workforce. But some in the audience, while enthusiastic about the premise and willing to work toward it, seemed a bit skeptical about the potential for change within a seemingly intractable system — skeptical, and even a bit cynical.

The first comment at the post has the right idea.

There are steps that can be taken.

1. Gradually migrate existing first-year writing and mathematics, and any remedial instruction, from the universities to the high schools.

2. Give dual credit for the non-remedial courses.

3. Require the universities to certify and prepare the instructors who must hold the same qualifications as today’s first-year writing and math instructors (some of whom are already moonlighting and retired high school teachers.)

4. Require the universities to assess and continuously improve the program.

Many states already have such programs for elite high school students. Gradually expand the programs, and secondary school performance will improve.

The ensuing bull session is worth visiting.

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