From the outside, Cresskill Middle School seems to be like any other school in New Jersey. It has a myriad of topics and fosters a diverse array of students from different backgrounds. However, when comparing its advanced math curriculum to that of Cresskill High school’s, a difference can be spotted: Cresskill Middle School teaches Geometry after Algebra II. Several problems can be identified immediately just by looking at the differing curriculums, which ultimately begs the question: should the middle school math curriculum be changed?

Typically, geometry is taught before algebra II due to its roots in algebra I topics, which include linear equations, graphs, and evaluation of expressions. It also prepares students for trigonometry, a core subject seen in algebra II. However, having geometry after algebra II can leave students confused and stressed as they scramble to grasp concepts familiar to those in geometry. Having geometry before algebra II could save students from a lot of stress and frustration later on while learning algebra II.

Taking geometry after algebra II could also hinder students in retaining knowledge from algebra II for precalculus. Precalculus, the course usually taken after Algebra II, mostly adds onto topics from algebra II and prepares students for statistics and calculus. However, having geometry after algebra II in the curriculum can cause students to forget most key algebra II concepts before they reach precalculus. A popular study conducted by German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus showed that people tend to forget 90% of what they were taught in a month. Fellow student Eric Kim stated that, while preparing for precalculus, he had to “go back to what [he] learned 2 years ago which [he] had forgotten a lot about,” showing the effect of geometry coming after algebra II, a course essential to understanding precalculus topics. Having students constantly review the entirety of algebra II while taking in new concepts from geometry can be stressful and frustrating for them. Having algebra II after geometry can help students retain more of their knowledge and help their understanding of topics covered in precalculus.

Others may argue that having geometry after algebra II could give students a review of algebra I topics which are also present in precalculus and refine their explanation skills. However, in doing this, students’ attention is redirected to algebra I topics instead of the more prominent algebra II topics. Explanation may be important, but key concepts in algebra II are more critical than explanation.

Overall, the middle school math curriculum has its benefits and drawbacks. However, I believe that the middle school math curriculum should be changed to help students go through the subjects in order without having to review material far back into the past.