E.D. Hirsch has a solution for increasing the base of knowledge students should be able to demonstrate, as measured by achievement tests. As Hirsch also noted in his book, "The Knowledge Deficit" comprehension increases in students when the reading material is based on something they already know. In essence, his point was to "kill two birds with one stone" by having students read content-rich material while they're improving their reading comprehension skills.
"So my modest proposal is that reading tests should contain passages about specific topics taught not just in literature, but in all other subjects taught in that grade, except for math," writes Hirsch. "For instance, if third-grade language arts standards specify Alice in Wonderland, third-grade science standards call for studying the speed of light, and third-grade social studies standards include the Vikings' explorations of North America, then passages on the third-grade reading test should cover those same topics. We would then have true curriculum-based reading tests instead of the mysterious tests we now have. This cunning device would make tests fairer and pedagogically more useful, and boost our students' abilities."
Source: "Plugging the Hole in State Standards: One Man's Modest Proposal" http://www.aft.org/pubs-reports/american_educator/issues/spring2008/hirsch.pdf