The study on raising achievement in the London borough of Newham found improvements in exam results, attendance, and teachers' and parents' expectations.
But it was up to individual teachers to focus on "clear and enthusiastic teaching, the use of varied and appropriate tasks and the use of good pace and challenge".
Newham topped this year's national league table of improving local authorities. Its GCSE average for pupils with five or more A*-C passes has risen by 10 per cent since 1994.
The borough is acknowledged to be one of the most deprived areas of the country, based on the numbers of overcrowded households which lack basic amenities. It also ranks among the worst for the numbers of unemployed and lone parents.
The National Foundation for Education Research study commended the initiatives implemented by the local authority to raise standards but warned that education officers now needed to interfere less in schools.
Instead, the LEA should celebrate the improvements made "to promote the area both to those who live and work there now, and to prospective new staff".
Researchers found that Newham had changed from being a reactive and defensive authority 10 years ago when an initial inquiry on the poor standards in the borough was carried out, to one with a clear vision and commitment to raising achievement.
Teachers were found to be working hard and had much higher expectations of their pupils. But heads said "us and them" union attitudes remained, and sometimes obstructed attempts to raise standards.
Teachers felt that parents could be more involved in the education of their youngsters. Overall, however, parental involvement had improved.