A report by Ofsted has judged 10 councils 'outstanding', 97 'good', 28 'adequate' and only four 'inadequate'.
The two appraisals will be more closely aligned from this year, Ofsted said.
Joint area reviews will focus on the key areas of weakness identified in the annual performance assessments, and on vulnerable groups and safeguarding children.
A common weakness is 'poor ongoing monitoring and assessment of the physical and mental health needs of vulnerable groups,' it says.
There has been only limited progress in reducing numbers of teenage pregnancies, and none on obesity.
Good planning of the transition from child to adult services has had 'a particularly profound impact' on children with learning difficulties or disabilities, Ofsted notes.
Ofsted director of education Miriam Rosen said: 'Councils and partners should secure a balance between sustaining improvements to universal services, while investing in prevention and targeting resources on acute areas of need.'