Often, if you ask a parent how they feel about their child's education (if their response is positive). you get something like, "good, my child gets good grades and seems happy."
Many parents have a blind trust in schools and their teachers. I'm not bashing teachers, since I've been a teacher. However, while teachers are educated in education, they are not all "experts" in regards to every child. With 20 - 200 students per day, for approximately 180 days a year, for one to six hours per day, they certainly aren't experts on the precise needs, wants, personalities, strengths, weaknesses, of each child. It is virtually impossible.
Yet, so many parents just blindly believe teachers. They do not inquire into what a child is exactly being taught, what they are absorbing and believing, what they are forgetting or finding worthless. Many parents just figure that if the child passes the school year or course, and isn't getting into major behavioral or academic trouble, that their child is succeeding and that what they are succeeding in is valuable and indicative of the quality of education.
Just because a child is getting a decent grade, does not mean they are learning either skills to use in adulthood, or knowledge to help transform the future, allow a new age of intellectual enlightenment. I know of teachers, far and few between but enough that each child has had one, that grades very liberally, giving "As for effort", meaning, if you show up and act the part, you get an A, even if you gain nothing from the experience. I've had students with As and Bs who cannot even write a paragraph at a 3rd grade level, in high school.
The solution is not a stronger reliance on test data, because memorization of isolated facts is but one method of evaluation, one type of knowledge. How often do we, as adults, rely on what we do know, but ask others for advice, research it, try it out before making our decision? This is not "data driven instruction/information" as schools see it.
Education is an ongoing, in-depth partnership. Attending one parent conference a year does not make a partnership. Parents know their child more than the teacher, since they see them more often and have raised them. They know what makes their child "tick". Educators know how to educate. Together, they can help discuss and collaborate to help a child academically. A parent can also supplement education at home- so many parents rely on education to only happen inside school doors, and most education should actually occur outside of school, school being the supplement or support. Relying on education from a teacher only also means that certain things, due to the standards and curriculum only teaching certain things, make it so that a student/child only learns biased, limited facts and opinions.
Parents should ask what is being taught, how, and why.
Just like the food pyramid includes different "categories" to lead to health, education has its own "categories" where school is just one piece of the whole picture leading to one's "education", and if someone eats just meats, and only pork without question because it is what some "expert" says to eat, they will end up unhealthy, with deficiencies. So is education.