Yes, you are right. There is research that supports that Accelerated Reader can provide results (which is different than creating students who love to read), however, I believe ice cream and social rewards are still considered extrinsic rewards and are short-term resolutions (also a confusing message).
According to all of the research I have looked at, if removed, that desire to read will decrease. That's not my goal for readers, and I am sure it is not yours. On the other spectrum from you, I have done without extrinsic rewards for ten years and continue to have the highest reading and LA scores around. I also continue to have students go into R/LA professions more than any other when contacted by former students, and I think it is because reading was valued intrinsically in our room....not as a chore that must be rewarded.
But if you are working in a situation that makes you feel otherwise about the program, I urge you to be informed and read the peer-reviewed accepted research on the market. This post just touches the surface on that and addresses your cases of support as well. Smart Answers for Tough Questions is a quick read through Scholastic that provides research supported by the government and NCLB standards. It supports what I posted here as well.
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