I think we need to decide what P-T conferences are for. What is their purpose? Then we can decide if there is a better way. I think we will find there is. But, just for now, my contribution is for the situation now when we are stuck with the 10-15 minute conference. It comes from the High School where I am a governor and came out of a general discussion about what we call in the UK, "Parents' Evenings". A teacher said that he asks the student to lead by asking "Well, X, how do you think you are doing?". Students tend to be open and honest and you get a better contact with teacher/parent/student in the short limited time available.