Starting from the Latin roots of the word assess (assidere) meaning to sit beside, the author advocates talking with students about their writing and discovering what to admire about their work as the initial evaluative approach. This slim volume is both a teaching guide and an impassioned plea to change the focus from summative to formative assessment in working with developing student writers. The author utilizes examples from primary grades and middle school classrooms to demonstrate how learning from students can help them succeed and meet standards—he draws on the writing related standards from the National Council of Teachers of English and the International Reading Association as a frame. He acknowledges all the usual hurdles of accountability, large class sizes, and lack of time, yet demonstrates how to streamline the processes and simultaneously foster stronger writing skills in students. Chapters address defining assessment in relation to writing, formative assessment vs. summative assessment, self-assessment, feedback as formative assessment, grading, and record-keeping; each chapter is summarized with key points. He addresses the use and misuse of rubrics and how to involve students in their refinement as a teaching and learning strategy. He shares what he has learned from dozens of conversations with students about how grading can also become a path to improvement instead of discouragement. He pushes the reader to re-examine the criterion of independence when teaching and evaluating student work. A handful of useful assessment tools are provided in reproducible form at the end of the book. Anyone teaching writing skills in the primary/middlegrades would benefit from reading this book to get new ideas, encouragement, and support to be a more effective teacher. It will also be a valuable addition to a professional development collection in institutions with teacher education programs. Reviewer: Paula McMillen, Ph.D.