According to this article in the National Post 33% of American 8th graders believe that Canada is run by a dictatorship:

In recent results from the U.S. National Assessment of Educational Progress — billed as the Nation’s Report Card — fully 33 per cent of American 8th graders said Canada, Australia and France are dictatorships of one kind or another.

Is the following claim true?

  • Here's the link to the actual thing: nationsreportcard.gov/hgc_2014/#/civics/question/204 May 19, 2015 at 17:23
  • @iamnotmaynard, shall you turn it to an answer? May 19, 2015 at 17:25
  • 1
    @georgechalhoub I'm not sure that by itself constitutes a sufficient answer, since it's just the study that the article cites (and can be found through a simple Google search). I think a better answer would need more studies and data either backing this up or refuting it, and I don't really have time to hunt that down. May 19, 2015 at 17:47
  • 1
    The article in the question makes a claim about the answers to a question, and the link backs it up exactly. I don't know why that wouldn't be an answer. Are we expecting a more authoritative source, in order to prove that the NAEP didn't lie? May 19, 2015 at 17:54
  • I had to look this up, but 8th grade is 13-14 years old. At that age I had zero interest in the political models of neighbouring countries, let alone countries half a world away. Practically any answer not involving ailens to this quiz seems reasonable for a 13 year old.
    – Clumsy cat
    Nov 27, 2022 at 9:15

1 Answer 1


Participants in the 2014 Grade 8 NAEP civics assessment (9,100 students) answered the question "What do the current governments of Canada, France, and Australia have in common?" as follows:

  • 10% - They are controlled by the military.
  • 54% - They have constitutions that limit their power.
  • 23% - They have leaders with absolute power.
  • 12% - They discourage participation by citizens in public affairs.

Whether that makes 33% as having answered that "Canada, Australia and France are dictatorships of one kind or another" is a matter of opinion. It looks to me like that description of the results aggregates the group that answered "They are controlled by the military" with the group that answered "They have leaders with absolute power".

  • 8
    18% of the students were ELL. There may be a loss of meaning from translation. Additionally, the 23% (they have leaders with absolute power) is debatable; it doesn't single out a single group, so it could just apply to leaders in general, which is the case of all governments where officials have any power; the combined leadership (executive, legislative, judicial, etc) have absolute power. May 19, 2015 at 19:07
  • @PlumbingforAnkit or perhaps they mistake "monarch" for "leader with absolute power" and for some reason neglected to take France's status as a republic into account.
    – phoog
    Nov 6, 2022 at 9:05
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    I'd question the value of the data given the fact that it appears to be a multiple choice question. Grade 8, (according to Google), is young teenagers of 13-14 years. It's quite probable that a significant proportion just didn't know / care and took a guess when presented with the question. So they don't actively think that Canadians, French and Australians are living in these particularly oppressive regimes. But if all of them were guessing, it would have been 50%. If the article said "only 67 (or 54!)% of 13-14 year olds think about foreign politics", it would be a bit less shocking.
    – komodosp
    Nov 7, 2022 at 13:14
  • What is "ELL" ? Nov 21, 2022 at 11:12

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