As studies pour in about dismal student achievements in math and science, a report Tuesday shows poor, mostly minority children with average abilities are excelling in a demanding special program stressing math and science.

The study of more than 3,000 students who participated in Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation educational programs comes as educators are emphasizing the benefits of a solid math and science background.One of President Bush's national educational goals is to have American students be first in the world in math and science by the year 2000.

But the report follows last month's Nation's Report Card that showed most students can't handle moderately challenging math problems and have limited scientific knowledge.

The Macy Foundation supports four-year high school honors programs stressing math and science for predominately minority and low-income children who are neither the most gifted or the lowest achievers.

The 39 "schools within schools" are in New York City; Tuba City, Ariz., on the Navajo Indian Reservation; New Haven, Conn.; and rural and mostly white schools in western Alabama.