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The federal panel charged with advising the U.S. Department of Education on accreditation is calling on policy makers to give it the final authority to decide which accrediting agencies deserve the federal government's recognition.

The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity currently only makes recommendations to the education secretary about whether an accreditor meets the federal standards to be a gatekeeper of federal funds. The secretary then gets to make the final call.

But in a set of policy recommendations published online Thursday, the 18-member panel said that it should be “the final decision-making authority on accrediting agency recognition.”

The panel, often referred to as NACIQI, also wants greater power to force accreditors to focus more on student learning and student outcomes. It recommended that policy makers streamline the federal standards for accrediting agencies and establish different tiers of accreditation (as opposed to the current all-or-nothing approach). In addition, the panel said that accreditation reports about institutions should be made available to the public.

The final recommendations come after the panel circulated a draft document last December. The panel previously made policy recommendations for changing how the federal government handles accreditation in 2011 and 2012, but the Education Department asked members of the committee to issue new recommendations as Congress gears up to reauthorize the Higher Education Act.