Student growth will account for 50 percent of teachers' evaluations under a new framework approved by Maryland school officials.

“This is not the end of anything. We are looking at this as a beginning,” said Superintendent Nancy Grasmick. “This is really a starting point for us."

The new evaluation method — defined broadly and still to be passed by Gov. Martin O'Malley — would be tested in seven school systems this fall before a statewide pilot would begin in fall 2012.

Because Montgomery County —  with Frederick County — opted out of Maryland's Race to the Top application for $250 million in federal dollars, Montgomery is not required to change its teacher evaluation tool, which was recently featured in The New York Times.

The initial seven  pilot districts are Baltimore city and Baltimore, Charles, Kent, Prince George’s, Queen Anne’s and St. Mary’s counties, the Gazette reports.

"By piloting this system over two years, we can assure that it will be properly implemented for teachers and principals,” Grasmick said.