TFF - Oh, you big tease!

You mentioned that schooling seemed to be more organized than before! This is for a number of reasons. Testing, testing and more testing (as you pointed out) needs results! These structures are gearded toward achieving these results. They also serve to hold the teachers accountable for not achieving these results. Structures keep the children busy and have less time for *bullying, etc. They are designed to move from one subject to another quickly so as to keep up with kids short attention spans (so *nicely designed by the tellie). Teachers planners were a blessing when I worked as a substitute teacher, almost as if the need for a substitute had been anticipated (note sarcasm there). There were some classes that didn't have them. They were the "looser" students, but you could tell they enjoyed learning, unlike the ones that followed strict structures. The teacher who didn't have them usually had their s**t together both socially (with students) and daily teaching requirements.

I think two tests a year help identify problems a little (but significantly) sooner...

...are coming to realize the importance of parents in kids' educations

The one's that truly do may be making a bigger effort, but I doubt if the actual number of realizers are increasing. Maybe.