The Self-Directed Learning Handbook offers teachers and principals an innovative program for customizing schooling to the learning needs of individual students-- and for motivating them to take increasing responsibility for deciding what and how they should learn. Whether the students are struggling or proficient, the program is designed to nurture their natural passion for learning and mastery, challenging them to go beyond the easy and familiar so they can truly excel. The program can be introduced in stages in any middle or high school classroom and enables students of diverse abilities to design and pursue independent course work, special projects, or even artistic presentations, community field work or apprenticeships. Using this approach, the students take on an increasingly autonomous, self-directed role as they progress. The heart of the program is the action contract (or learning agreement) whereby the student sets challenging yet attainable goals, commits to a path for achieving them, and evaluates the results. Special emphasis is placed on developing skills and competencies that can serve the student well in his or her academic and career endeavors.