The report by the National Foundation for Educational Research, commissioned by the Local Government Association, examined the role of education authorities in raising school standards.
The findings will be considered by a new LGA commission which will meet for the first time next month.
It has been formed to prove that local education authorities can turn round failing schools. Doubts have been cast on their abilities by government moves to privatise education services and ministers' reluctance to involve local government in plans for the new city academies.
Ten LEAs were studied and more than 100 school staff and governors were interviewed.
It found half of the respondents believed all schools needed LEAs to help them improve and provide a wid range of support for their managers.
It also said there was evidence to suggest that LEA officers and advisers provided more support than they were given credit for.
But headteachers and governors claimed they would not be able to form trusting relationships with advisers unless they were more visible in schools and more accessible.
The report concluded that the wide range of support provided by local authorities indicated that their role in school improvement was one worth fighting for.
LGA education chair Graham Lane said the commission's job was to find out how failing schools had been turned round with the help of local government and to learn the lessons from experiences throughout the country.
The commission, to be chaired by the association's chair Sir Jeremy Beechham, will hear evidence from headteachers in July and report in November.