Nancy Schnog had an article in the August 24, 2008, Washington Post, We're Teaching Books That Don't Stack Up.
As a teacher herself (of juniors and seniors in high school) she has some reality based observations. I don't agree completely with the implications of some of her analysis, but it is well worth reading. At the core of her article, she obliquely identifies the issue - the challenge of matching a child to the books that she might love so that interest fuels passion for reading rather than that academic exercise smothers the fire.
It is not easily done at all, and especially in these days of ever broadening social norms, inflated expectations of (mental and social) maturity, and attempts at standardization of education. I am not against rigorous performance measurement of children and schools but do recognize that that presents some very legitimate challenges that have not yet been effectively addressed.