Democrats lauded the bill, predicting that it will lead to significant gains in student achievement.
"It's fair. It's bold. It's innovative," said Delegate Brent Boggs, D-Braxton. "What I see is an outstanding piece of legislation that the people of West Virginia can be proud of."
Delegates Marty Gearheart, R-Mercer, and Larry Kump, R-Berkeley, were the only two delegates who voted against the bill.
Tomblin's bill hit a snag in the Senate two weeks ago, after teachers unions lambasted the legislation, saying it punished teachers and would do nothing to improve student achievement.
The original bill significantly de-emphasized the role seniority would play in teacher hires. The original bill also would have allowed Teach for America -- a program that places new college graduates at struggling schools -- to operate in West Virginia.
In response to teachers union complaints, state lawmakers -- with Tomblin's blessing -- revised the bill, removing Teach for America and giving seniority greater weight in hiring decisions.
Under the legislation passed Friday, teachers would be hired using 11 factors. Seniority is one of nine factors that would get equal weight. The other two factors -- principal and faculty senate recommendations -- would receive double weight under the new hiring system.
The bill also expands the yearly school calendar from 43 weeks to 48 weeks. The new calendar will give schools more flexibility to make up snow days and lost classroom time, helping to ensure students receive 180 days of instruction, the bill's supporters said.
"Obviously," Tomblin said, "the more time in the classroom, the better the chances of student achievement increasing."
Tomblin, lawmakers and teachers union leaders said Friday's vote was an important start to reforming education in West Virginia, a state with student test scores that are among the lowest in the country.
"We can pat ourselves on the back for this," said Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, "but it's time to roll up our sleeves and move forward as we make education for every child in West Virginia the cornerstone."
The governor is expected to sign the bill within a few days.
Reach Eric Eyre at erice...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.