Management support, the inspection and advisory service and the implementation of the literacy strategy all received praise. "There is every reason for optimism that the authority will increasingly make a difference," said the report.
Inspectors were also impressed by "the commitment and effort of councillors and officers" in ensuring a smooth transition as Nottinghamshire split from the City of Nottingham - a new unitary authority - last April.
Nottinghamshire is Labour-controlled and contains pockets of affluence and deprivation.
Exam results are broadly in line with the national average. "However, despite relatively high levels of delegated funding and support, standards in Nottinghamshire schools are not, as the new authority recognises, as high as they should be," the report said.
Inspectors also identified some evidence of past complacency, but acknowledged that the authority is working to raise standards and that it has the confidence of its schools.
The council's task is now more clearly defined following the removal of the City of Nottingham's schools which had their own distinct demands.