In this exploratory study we examined the alignment of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) middle school engineering design standards with lesson ideas from middle school teachers, science education faculty, and engineering faculty (4–6 members per group). Respondents were prompted to provide plain language interpretations of two middle school Engineering Design performance expectations and to provide examples of how the performance expectations could be applied in middle school classrooms. Participants indicated the challenges and benefits of implementing these performance expectations and indicated personal experiences that helped them to interpret the performance expectations.

Quality of lessons differed depending on the performance expectation being addressed. Generally, respondents were better able to generate ideas that addressed the paradigm of students ‘‘analyz[ing] data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions’’ than having students ‘‘define the criteria and constraints of a design problem.’’ A notable finding was the scarcity of quality engineering lesson ideas. The greatest proportion of lessons were categorized as Vague and/or Overly Broad. It appears that NGSS engineering design standards can too easily be decoded in an excessively expansive manner, thus resulting in indefinite ideas that are difficult to translate into classroom practice.