I wonder how much of this is school culture, because my kids are now in 6th and 3rd grades, so I have a fair number of years under my belt. My son had some serious struggles in K-3 with sensory issues, attention, etc. He eventually recieved a dx from the school evaluator of sensory issues and visual-motor integration.
And I think every single teacher, for both kids, has gotten to know my child well enough to be able to tell me things *I* didn't know about my child. About the way he learns, or the way she uses language, or how he interacts with kids his age vs. older or younger kids. Most of them have 10+ years of experience and specialized training in child development, and it's fascinating to have them talk about the typical progress of learning to read, for instance, and understand where in that progression my child is, and what I might expect next.
We had a lot of conferences that did include "Okay, so he's having trouble wiht X." But it was generally preceded by "First, he is a wonderful child. He's kind, and creative, and I've never seen him be consciously mean," and was followed by "I know that he doesn't do X on purpose, so we need to talk about how we can work on that."
I say this not to boast, but a bit in response to the idea that our teachers are "paid strangers."
I dont' know how much of our school culture is fed by being a district that has committed to low student-teacher ratios and strong support of teachers, and how much of it is that we have a school full of experienced, dedicated teachers, most of whom trained as teacher and began teaching before NCLB was passed. We did have one long-term sub who was a much younger teacher, fresher from ed school, and I have to say her outlook on kids and classroom management was very different, and I could see that it might ultimately have been damaging.
Is your district under NCLB pressure to produce test scores? Have there been budget cutbacks that mean he's one of 35 or 40 rather than one of 20? Do you think the teacher would respond to a conversation where ou say "I know you see X, and I see it too, but I lalso see Y. How can we work together on X and preserve Y?"