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June 10, 2016

In a letter to the U.S. Department of Education, Senator Elizabeth Warren urged federal education officials to crack down on this country's largest college accrediting organization. (Charles Dharapak/Associated Press)

In her letter to the US Department of Education on Thursday Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren urged federal education officials to “take strong, aggressive action to hold [the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools] accountable for its dismal record of failure.”

In an accompanying report, Senator Warren criticized ACICS’ performance, issuing a number of condemning findings, including that “ACICS has a history of accrediting schools accused of numerous violations of federal and state law,” and that the agency "has ignored obvious signs of wrongdoing at schools it accredits.”

"As gatekeepers to federal funding, accrediting agencies play a crucial role in promoting student achievement and institutional quality at institutions of higher education," Senator Warren wrote.

ACICS has come under criticism in recent years for accrediting Corinthian Colleges. The for-profit giant collapsed in 2014, leaving students with worthless degrees.

Meanwhile, executives at ACICS are defending the accreditation process and his organization's role in it.

"What's the alternative? The alternative will be mid-level government bureaucrats that are going in schools and saying, 'We deem this one to be good, we deem this one to be bad, and we deem this one to be bad,” said Tony Bieda, ACICS’ Executive in Charge, during an interview with WGBH's On Campus

Related: Feds Announce Debt-Relief Program For Defrauded Corinthian Students

This week, Bieda announced ACICS would stop taking new applications from colleges seeking accreditation.

Senator Warren’s letter and report come as the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) is expected to consider whether to renew ACICS's federal recognition later this month.

Senator Warren, along with other lawmakers, want the Department to stop recognizing the Council’s accreditation.

Earlier: Asian American Groups Target Top Ivy League Schools For Racial Discrimination 

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