As Lake Highlands High School students prepare for the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills, test anxiety can be abundant – especially for those who struggle in math.

The students’ fears, however, have been eased through the efforts of neighborhood volunteers and the school’s pilot tutoring program, designed to boost math scores on the required test.

Principal Bob Iden says the tutoring program gives students more one-on-one attention.

“We looked at math scores and realized our students were having a hard time with math,” he says. “Since we could not give each student the amount of individual attention they needed during regular classes, we came up with the tutoring program.”

Iden and his group of volunteers, which included math teachers and members of the Afrian-American fraternity Omega Psi Phi, tutored the students for more than an hour every Monday night, paying special attention to specific objectives of the TAAS test.

The program began in late December, when about 150 students who previously failed the test or were struggling in their math classes received individual counseling. Letters were sent home to their parents as an invitation to attend the tutoring program.

About 65 students, mostly sophomores, attended the tutoring each week.

Elliott Stephenson, neighborhood volunteer and co-founder of the program, says the response was better than anyone expected.

“It was a pleasant surprise to see not only the number of students, but the number of parents who attend,” he says.

Though he hopes it won’t always be necessary, Stephenson says the school plans to offer the tutoring in future years.

“Hopefully the district will address the needs of the kids earlier, but as long as there is a need, we will do this,” he says.

The tutored students will take a practice exam March 2 before joining their classmates for the March 4 test.