I heard all that crap several times in high school. While many students, including me did a last minute rush to read summer reading lists, I found a lot of the braggers were full of it.
One of the substitute teachers had recommended reading the Evlyn wood speed reading method book, so I bought it junior year of high school. The technique consisted of twitching your eyes in patterns, or head if you have bad coordination and forget, and reading at a contant pace. The book then switched to practicing samples and study skills. The actual technique took all of 1 page to explain.
I tried a commercial product called eye-Q, which also stresses the same thing except the program has courses for you to do. After every 5-10 minute session it says your done for the day and stupidly asks you to wait until tomorrow to practice more. Many of the exercises are valid, however, some, like following a lemon around the screen and visuallizing a shape expanding, are completely useless.
I'm not claiming I can read 1000-2000 words a minute or something ridiculus. One week I concentrated hard on only speed reading and saw an increase in the recognition level. It takes the same practice to maintain.
Real speed reading is simple. All you need to do is read something pretty easy to follow like a history book. Read a chapter. The length should be long enough to not remember and as short as possible. Read a few pages over and over again and feel like your scanning it. This does not mean your speed reading is getting faster. You're just reading the same content faster because you already took the time to understand it. Use this technique to get in the habbit of scanning the pages fast and practice with several sources over a long period of time.
Like anything else, speed math, chess, playing a musical instrument, etc, speed reading can be built upon but takes a long time to accumulate.
The schools systems do not teach mastery, they teach memorization of material for short periods of time. It's common for people to think you need to be a genius or a hardcore obsessive reader. It's not true. Speed reading is possible, but just like everything else, takes practice and discipline.