A fight brewing centering around allegations that college accreditation entities have failed to hold high education accountable has spilled over into the Department of Education.

From ProPublica:

Department of Education Demands Greater Accountability from College Accreditors

The U.S. Department of Education announced new transparency measures for college accreditors today, encouraging the organizations to focus more on student outcomes such as graduation rates.

As part of a series of legislative recommendations, the agency also called on Congress to give it the power to set standards for how accreditors measure student achievement.

Accreditors are not government agencies but play a critical role in higher education: Colleges must get approval from them in order to gain access to the government’s massive student aid programs. Accreditation is particularly critical for for-profit colleges, which rely on federal funds for much of their income.

But accreditors often don’t do much to make sure students are getting a quality education.

“Accreditation organizations are watchdogs that don’t bite,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan during a press briefing about today’s announcement.