The early schools in West Virginia were financed by subscription, with the exception of a few schools supported by various religious organizations. In 1863 the state constitution established a free public school system. A new constitution, passed in 1872, made provision for a system supported by state funds. At that time, state funds were also appropriated for teacher training in normal schools. In 1890 the West Virginia legislature approved a plan for the grading of rural schools, known as the Wade Plan, which gained wide acceptance in rural schools throughout the country. Until state aid for high schools began in 1908, private academies were responsible for secondary education in the state. The 20th century saw the consolidation of rural schools and the general upgrading of education, particularly vocational education. The state system of public education is supervised by a state board of education and a state superintendent of schools.
West Virginia’s public and private institutions of higher learning include West Virginia University, in Morgantown; Marshall University, in Huntington; Fairmont State College, in Fairmont; Glenville State College, in Glenville; Concord University, in Athens; Shepherd University, in Shepherdstown; and West Liberty State College, in West Liberty. All opened initially as state normal schools. What is now West Virginia University Institute of Technology, in Montgomery, and Potomac State College, in Keyser, were established as preparatory branches of West Virginia University.
In 1996, after a century as a separate degree-granting college, West Virginia Tech merged with West Virginia University to become West Virginia University Institute of Technology. Potomac State continues as a two-year branch of West Virginia University.
West Virginia State University, in Institute, and Bluefield State College, in Bluefield, were established as black colleges and remained so until after the United States Supreme Court mandated school desegregation in 1954. In the early 1970s the state legislature established several independent community colleges. Bethany College (1840), in Bethany, is West Virginia’s oldest private college. Other major private colleges include West Virginia Wesleyan College, in Buckhannon; University of Charleston, in Charleston; Davis & Elkins College, in Elkins; Salem International University, in Salem; Alderson-Broaddus College, in Philippi; Wheeling Jesuit University, in Wheeling; Ohio Valley College, in Vienna; Appalachian Bible College, in Bradley; and the College of West Virginia, in Beckley. The West Virginia Higher Education Interim Governing Board is the governing board that oversees the public colleges and universities in the state. The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission is responsible for developing, establishing, and overseeing the implementation of a public policy agenda for higher education. "West Virginia" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.
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