Well it doesn't do any good to teach algebra at the middle school level if the kids don't know basic arithmetic. Mathematics is a hierarchy of knowledge. If you move on before the previous level is mastered you will be lost. I've worked with high school and even a few college graduates that didn't know their multiplication tables. You're supposed to learn them in the third grade. So I don't know what good it would do trying to teach them algebra at any level. I'm not advocating rote memorization learning in middle school but you can't teach critical thinking skills until the basics are learned.