The number of failing schools has halved during the past year, figures from the Office for Standards in Education reveal.
Inspectors put 231 schools into special measures during the academic year of 1999-2000. That number dropped to 109 for the year to May 31, 2001.
The biggest improvement has been in primary schools, with only 77 this year compared to 168 the year before.
Commenting on the new figures an OFSTED spokesman said: "It is good news, and a good indication that the local education authorities are doing the jobs they are meant to be doing. Schools are managing to identify their weaknesses before being put into special measures.
"But this is no reason to be complacent. We are still worried about schools who have a large number of weaknesses."
Schools are also making a more rapid recovery. They had been taking an average of five visits from inspectors over two years to come out of special measures.
Recently some schools have been declared acceptable after a year.
David Hart, general secretary for the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "I think it reflects great credit on headteachers for raising standards. Standards are on the up and I am very pleased. I don't like to see any schools going into special measures.
"I wouldn't wish special measures on my worst enemy."
OFSTED believes primary schools tend to come out of special measures more quickly because they are smaller than secondary schools, and tend to have less complex problems.
This year 21 secondaries, seven special schools and four pupil-referral units were in special measures.
The equivalent figures for last year were 39 secondaries, 16 special schools and eight pupil-referral units.